The Right Fit

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What makes great advertising work?

Whether you’re watching a panel discussion at the Cannes Lion or reading an article in AdWeek, the majority of the discourse revolves around three things:

  1. The big idea.
  2. The size of the media spend to make enough noise.
  3. Luck.

Sure, there are nuances. Some agencies will talk about the brand’s ability to truly allow the agency to spread their wings, then there’s the heated discussion over important details like the casting and time spent on the copy. I was walking through the shopping mall and came across a perfume store. The main advertising in the window was Chanel No 5. It was a massive headshot of Brad Pitt with a small Chanel bottle in the bottom right corner. I just laughed. Much has been written about the TV commercials and advertising following Chanel’s decision to use Brad Pitt as their spokesperson (the first male to be chosen for this, particular, perfume brand). Even more has been written and created surrounding the somewhat laughable debut commercial featuring Brad Pitt. Is it true that in ultimate insult was delivered by Saturday Night Live, when the late-night live television sketch comedy and variety show decided to parody the commercial by actually running it as is? They figured, nothing could be funnier that what Chanel No 5 considered to be a legitimate form of advertising.

The point of laughing.

This isn’t about being overly critical of a brand or a choice of spokesperson or advertising creative and more. I laughed as I passed this point-of-purchase advertisement, because it occurred to me that what makes great advertising – in it’s entirety – is the right fit. That’s what makes advertising so hard, so random and so challenging. The right fit isn’t just about the right face for the right product, it’s about everything. From the start: is the brand and agency the right fit? Are the team members the right fit? Is the strategy the right fit for the brand? Is the creative the right fit for the strategy? Does the media buy fit? You get the idea.

How often do you think about the right fit?

Media professionals have a million excuses when a campaign fails. "Fit" is sometimes mentioned in the excuses, but not frequently enough. As we all head off into the holidays, take a break, regroup and come back in January with a new zeal to do better and more remarkable work in marketing, it would be well-advised to spend some time during this break to think about whether or not you have the right fit – in each and every thing that you are doing. This doesn’t mean to start from scratch, and it also doesn’t mean that you can’t – through the power of effective conversation – stir things into a more productive relationship. What it does mean is that great ideas, luck and managing a budget become somewhat arbitrary when you have the right fit. Chanel No 5 probably has some thinking to do about whether this deal with Brad Pitt produced the results that they anticipated. My guess is that your brand probably has some thinking to do as well, in terms of drilling down into the work to make sure that you have the right fit across the board.

Now, over to you: is there anything more important than the right fit when it comes to your marketing?

The above posting is my twice-monthly column for The Huffington Post called, Media Hacker. I cross-post it here with all the links and tags for your reading pleasure, but you can check out the original version online here:


  1. While no one is debating that the ad copy leaves much to be desired. You and many others ARE taking about the brand, and it certainly doesn’t hurt having one of the most globally recognized faces plastred in store fronts from Seoul to Barcelona alongside channel no. 5
    In this case isn’t the so called, bad publicity, in fact quite beneficial?

  2. You’re right: two schools of thought here:
    1. The only bad press is an obituary. This is your point – and it is very valid. More people than ever were/are talking up Chanel No. 5. No question about it. Did it get the impressions that they wanted in the media? Probably.
    2. Is it the right fit for the brand? Did this move the needle? Did it get more people to buy Chanel No. 5? Become more loyal or become a new, loyal brand evangelist?
    I think #2 is most important because this borders on a luxury brand. People don’t want to feel stupid wearing it or classless. It’s a fine line. Regardless of the efficacy of the campaign, I stand by my premise that this was a bad fit. I think many brands (not just Chanel) don’t realize how often they are making “bad fits” and blaming other components. That was the meta thought for this piece.

  3. Unfortunately it did feel contrived the first time I saw it so I laughed. It is unusual and sometimes that’s good but not sure it worked here. The real star is the lady in the gorgeous backless dress, so poor Brad. Anyone in marketing and in sponsorship specifically should be able to relate to how much fit matters. I used to wear Chanel No 5 25 years ago but this didn’t make me want to buy it again; I spent more time wondering why Brad did that commercial. I think it diminished both brands in the execution. Thanks for making us think about it Mitch. There’s a lesson in everything we experience.

  4. Claire, the ad you reference is the 2nd Brad Pitt Chanel #5 ad, which is all the
    better. Let’s compare, and speculate. In either ad, had Brad been dressed in a
    tuxedo, sitting on an ultra sofa, staring into a burning fireplace, thinking and
    dreaming about that special women, turning & looking into the camera at the very
    end when he says “inevitable”, with his facial hair a bit more trimmed, the “luxury” connection would have been there and thus “the right fit ” would have also. (BTW,
    “Frame 2” in the 1st commercial where Brad “close up” is staring down at the floor
    doing his monologue, was replaced with “the lady in the gorgeous backless dress” in
    the 2nd commercial. A great decision, because “Frame 2”, in my opinion, was poorly
    designed). Both commercials are on YouTube. View both, then reconsider.

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