When an American advertising agency does sexy, we usually get the likes of a practically plastic Paris Hilton, clad in a cheesy bathing suit and high heels, washing a car - whoa, she's got a firm grip on that hose!
When a French advertising agency does sexy, we get burlesque bombshell Dita Von Teese (for Perrier) seductively slinking around a chateau in the finest lingerie , playfully teasing visitors throughout a delightfully naughty interactive experience that includes picture-taking and a game of dice.
PerrierbyDita.com, created by Ogilvy & Mather Paris and produced in conjunction with hybrid production company B-Reel, has been discovered by a global audience thanks to social media (Dita has been promoting the site via Twitter and Foursquare), but it was made specifically for France, where Perrier drinkers have access to limited-edition Perrier packaging featuring Dita, chosen to represent the brand because she resembles Perrier's historic pin-ups.
"We wanted people to flirt with Dita, play with her charm and sensuality and, more important, be true to the brand by doing so in a very elegant and sexy fashion," Ogilvy & Mather Paris creative director Fabio Costa says of the site, which is aimed at younger consumers, both male and female.
We found no shortage of digital creatives - 18 and older, of course - willing to peruse PerrierbyDita.com, though ultimately AKQA co-founder and chief creative officer James Hilton and Euro RSCG Worldwide executive creative director/digital Rahul Sabnis did the honors. We also sought out the opinion of Jo "Boobs" Weldon, headmistress of the New York School of Burlesque and author of The Burlesque Handbook.
Does it make sense for Perrier to link up with Dita?
Sabnis: Absolutely. I didn't make that connection [to the pin-up], but I enjoyed the choice, because it surprised me. There is way too much predictability these days: I am Nike, so I pick sports athletes to represent me. But choosing Dita felt different, and I didn't see it coming.
Hilton: Dita is very sexy, and she does that whole burlesque thing really, really well, and she's also very, very well known, so there are the obvious draws of that. But the French have got a smorgasbord of lovelies to choose from. I find it culturally odd that they decided to use an American. However, I know how much they love Americans, so maybe it's not that odd.
Weldon: As I recall when I was a little kid, Perrier was supposed to be a luxury brand. Remember those stories of people taking baths in Perrier? It was rather decadent, and I think she echoes that - the idea that Perrier is a luxury item. A lot of the themes in her style and performance relate to luxury, so it is a good match.
Do you think she did a good job of being sexy without crossing the line into crass?
Weldon: There is an elegance and a playfulness to her that appeals to people who aren't normally attracted to erotica. That said, she believes in her aesthetic and wouldn't have been too concerned if someone else found her performance too racy. I don't think she watered it down at all-
Except for pouring that Perrier all over her breasts...
Sabnis: Oddly enough, I think it's perfect for America, but I think it's a little conservative for France. I actually thought that they could have gone further.
Hilton: The job of any good burlesque performer is to make you believe that more is going to come when it actually isn't, to show you everything without showing you anything - that's the tease, and she does it very well. I'd like to extend my congratulations to whomever sold this in to the client. I want to say, "You lucky buggers!"
Did you like the games Dita invited you to play?
Weldon: I liked the dark room and the Polaroid camera. That was really clever and fun to play with.
Hilton: I thought the photos bit was brilliant, however I was really disappointed that I didn't get to keep the photographs. It felt like an incomplete experience. I'm roaming around a room with a Polaroid camera taking photographs of Dita in her undies. What could be better really? But then I don't get to keep the photographs. There were wallpapers at the end but not my photographs. It would have been wonderful if they asked you for an email address upfront so when you come out of the Web site, there's an email from Dita waiting for you with the photographs, saying, "You left these behind." It would have been icing on the cake.
What did you think of
the production values overall?
Hilton: I can't fault the production values of it. The cinematography and the direction, her walking down the corridor in front of you - I just thought it was brilliant. From a craft point of view, I'd give them a 9 out of 10.
Weldon: Aesthetically, it's just brilliant, and it worked technically, which is a big bonus because sometimes they spend all this money to create these sites and say, "Well, there are some glitches, but watch it anyway." But this was great because it worked. It loads really fast, and it's an easy Web site to use. I didn't want the experience to end.
Sabnis: The design of it is absolutely stunning and gorgeous, even subtle things like the security keypad at the gate where you put in your age - that's really smart. Little details like that are very important, and a tip of the hat to them for understanding how to do that and stay within the mode of the story that's being told.
Hilton: The keypad at the gate is just great, really well executed. I saw that and thought, "Golly, I hope they keep this attention to detail going."
Weldon: I love little stuff like that. I also love how the gates open, and I love the mansion. Who doesn't love a mansion?
Does the site leave you thirsty for Perrier?
Weldon: Um, I don't drink carbonated water that much, but it made me think about Perrier, and I did want to spend more time with Dita. I am sure this was expensive to produce, so they could probably only do so much.
Sabnis: There's no critique that I can leverage on the site in a negative way. They have this core idea, which is a love affair with pin-ups and the allure of sexuality, and they've given me entertainment as a consumer that I never would have expected. They were able to make me look at Perrier in a different way.
Hilton: I was left with a conversation in my head that went, "What on Earth has this got to do with water?" Maybe it's got nothing to do with water, and if it hasn't gotten anything to do with water, fine. But I'm trying to put the pieces together. If the brief was to make water sexy - I can almost see Perrier saying, "Please, can somebody make us sexy again?" - then maybe its job [is] done.