Sauvage - "We Are The Land"


The fragrance Sauvage from Dior had a bit of controversy over the American Labor Day weekend as it released a short film featuring Johnny Depp titled “We Are The Land.” The controversy stems from the brand’s use and portrayal of Native Americans in the film. Sauvage quickly pulled the film but also explained that it had worked with a Native American group to bring the film to life. Many had a problem with the brand name and the content of the film

Here’s the film:

I waited to formulate my thoughts for my NYU class last night. It was the first class of the new Fall semester, and since we talk about current events in marketing each week then this was a perfect topic to kick off the semester.

In general, my class couldn’t find the relevant connection between this fragrance, Native Americans, and the target audience so hence it came off as insincere, disingenuous, and gratuitous…perhaps despite its attempts to bring forth a beautiful and respectful piece of art. My class suggested that if the brand had somehow shown the relevance or a contribution to the community or a tie to a larger initiative then perhaps the reaction could have been different.

I will always admire a beautiful piece of art and I will always enjoy getting the opportunity to understand a piece of culture, but this is a good reminder that context is king. Brands need to show the motivation behind their work and brands need to prove relevancy (either to the target audience or to the brand) in every move they make. And as my students pointed out, demonstrating some added value isn’t a bad idea either.

What do you think? What’s your experience? JIM