John F. Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe and Chanel No. 5


November.  People say it’s a sad month.  It starts with All Saints’ Day and is followed by All Souls’ Day.   And, of course, there is the Día de Muertos, Day of the Dead, which is celebrated by Mexicans over a three-day period.  I’ve always loved the way Mexicans think of death.  They are afraid of death… but they laugh at it too.

Two seemingly disconnected events this month make me wonder… the launch of the new Chanel No. 5 advertisement featuring Marilyn Monroe and the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination.  I wonder about Chanel’s choice.  Everyone knows that I really disliked the Brad Pitt advertisement and I’m very happy that they replaced it this year… basically as soon as they could.  And it’s really fun to see Marilyn Monroe in all her blonde glory!  But why this year!  I’m hoping it was an oversight on their part but I don’t think so.  I think some marketing person figured that with all the JFK assassination coverage this November, there will also be a lot of talk about Marilyn.  And so… for them to come out with a Marilyn Monroe campaign… well, it’s like they’re getting a lot of free publicity.

Now… everyone knows that I love Chanel perfumes.  They do really beautiful fragrances.  Class all the way!  But I don’t know about their marketing.  I didn’t like last year’s choice of Brad Pitt and although I love the Marilyn ad, I don’t like the timing.

When I think of John F. Kennedy’s death, I think of two things.  As a 7 year old, I was really surprised to see my mother watching tv in the middle of the day when I returned home from school for lunch.  And, the tv was on an American channel!  My mother was French-Canadian.  She never watched American tv.  But what really shocked me was that she was crying.  I had never seen my mother cry before.  And of course, I didn’t understand and she wasn’t about to explain to me why she was crying.  It was too horrible for a 7 year old.

So let’s forget this marketing misstep and end this post with Dido’s Lament from Purcell’s opera Dido and Aeneas. Dido, so distraught that her love Aeneas is leaving her, has ordered a large pyre on which she plans to impale herself and be set ablaze so that Aeneas will see from his ship.


When I am laid, am laid in earth, May my wrongs create
No trouble, no trouble in thy breast;
Remember me, remember me, but ah! forget my fate.
Remember me, but ah! forget my fate.

Leave a comment


  1. FiveoaksBouquet

     /  November 18, 2013

    Poor Marilyn Monroe. She has probably made more money dead for other people than she ever earned for herself in her lifetime. I can only agree that an ad at a time of the Kennedy assassination anniversary turns No 5 from an object of desire to an object of darkness. But even without the Kennedy association, I find the exploitation of Marilyn ghoulish. I really despise the mentality of the marketers behind this and the Pitt campaign.

    • I don’t know what’s happening to Chanel marketing. I used to love their ad campaigns. Now, I cringe. I thought they should pull the Brad Pitt ad and now I think that, at the very least, they should pull the ad until December (if not pull it all together) and state publicly that they made an error in judgment or they just didn’t think!

      Thanks for the comment.


  2. Jessye, semi divine.

  1. New Chanel No. 5 ad : The One That I Want | The Perfume Chronicles

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