11 Sep 2013

Dior channels James Dean for sexy film

Forget the slow, atmospheric, moody fragrance ads you’ve come to expect from brands, Dior has turned the sex appeal factor up to 11. The French fashion house has launched an edgy,  film for Dior Homme that is dripping with attitude and sex appeal. 

Starring actor Robert Pattinson, best known for his brooding role in Twilight, and directed by Romain Gavras, best known for directing M.I.A’s controversial Born Free video, clearly this film is shooting to be the antithesis of Chanel & Brad Pitt’s mystifying collaboration. 

This is the first campaign fronted by Pattinson, as the face of Dior, who stars in the film alongside model Camilla Rowe. 

The film, called “1000 lives”, sees the two running around New York City, driving along a beach in a vintage BMW convertible, crashing a high-society ball, diving fully clothed into a pool, making out in the elevator and a lot of sexy kissing shots in a funky apartment. All the while the video features the thumping rock of Led Zeppelin’s classic 'Whole Lotta Love'. 

Prior to the films release Dior ran a teaser campaign, releasing trailers for the film which were posted online. The film was then released online, along with an uncensored directors cut, supported by a dedicated website featuring images, interviews, a manifesto, a making-of video and other exclusive content.  


This film is so unexpected from Dior and for that reason I really like it and find it very intriguing. 

To all intents and purposes this is a pretty standard fashion film. Big budget, big name star, black & white film, strong music track, lingering shots of beautiful people – all up an ad pretending to be a film clip. 

But to view it this way, I think, is to miss the magic of what Dior have created. 

Dior has been quite strategic in positioning this as a film. All the marketing activity has positioned this as a film, not an ad. The aim here is to create something different and instill the viewer with a perception that this is not marketing it is a piece of entertainment. 

Dior reinforced this with the movie trailers of ‘The Film’, which served to drum up excitement and anticipation of the film's release. A strategy which paid off, the film's launch attracted a huge buzz and the YouTube film has been viewed more than 6 million times in just ten days. 

Further to creating an filmic atmosphere around '1000 Lives' is the film's look and feel. Dior has channeled one of Hollywood’s greatest icons in James Dean, giving the brand an extra dose of cool. The music and imagery transports the viewer back to another era, when men were men: masculine and sexy. 

No bones about it Dior is channeling the iconic cool of James Dean and the sex appeal of Robert Pattinson to flog cologne to the masses. But they are doing it in a very cool way. They've tried and failed in the past to create cool films, the above effort by Guy Ritchie and Jude Law is a glaring example. While they have failed in the past, this time Dior nails it. 

This time all the ingredients are there, helped immensely by the choice of music track, and coupled with the clear James Dean inspiration, '1000 Lives' delivers a level of attitude and cool to a brand that could not normally command this. 

This is a brand more recognisable for its women's fashion line, and when you do conjure images of Dior Homme it is pretty, immaculately groomed models. High cheekbones, aqualine noses and pastels.  

This film is not that. it is so far from that. It is a revolt against that very image. 

'1000 Lives' is somewhat reminiscent of a Heineken commercial, with elements of Heineken’s Man of the World, but Dior’s man is edgier, cooler, more rebellious. To me this feels like it could easily be All Saints, Jack Daniels or Diesel but I would never have guessed Dior. 

Then again, Dior Homme is not a brand I’ve given a whole lot of thought to. Although this film could very well change that. 

This is the first activity Pattinson has fronted for the brand and Dior is clearly keen to make a big splash.  

His performance is sexy and cool, he's the guy that men want to be and French actress Camilla Rowe fulfills the brief that every bloke “wants a French bird”. 

Hiring a controversial director such as Gavras is also an unexpected move, and one which is clearly going to pay off for the brand. 

It was Pattinson who choose Gavras, a director known for gritty realism and high energy content. The film is more film clip, than fragrance ad and it works. Rather than creating the usual moody, rambling script with no real purpose that audiences have come to expect from fragrance ads, Gavras has delievered a punchy, cool film that position's Dior as a brand for real men.   

Let's be clear the film itself is not groundbreaking, it is cliched and in many ways predictable, but it is groundbreaking for the category and for a brand like Dior and for this reason it should be showcased. 

Drawing clear inspiration from iconic men such as James Dean, Marlon Brando, Steve McQueen, this film seeks to instil Dior Homme with the effortless, sexy vibe that these men embodied. 

As Dior puts it: “Reminiscent of Dylan Thomas, Antonioni or James Dean, [Gavras] vision of the Dior Homme is a revolt, a drunkenness laden with a sense of humor and wild beatfrolicking.”

These are the men that men aspire to and women go weak at the knees for. In this sense the film is a masterstroke in one fell swoop it appeals to both men and women without alienating either.  

Although not everyone agrees with me. AdWeek may have crowned the film Ad of the Week but not without laying the boot into the film calling it: “ A cookie-cutter, big-budget fragrance ad… as pale and needy as the Twilight bloodsucker Pattinson so famously portrayed.” 

I suspect - and the viewing numbers confirm - that audiences disagree with AdWeek. 

Dior has successfully created a feeling for its brand. A brand that stood for little in many people's eyes has been embodied with a sense of free-spirited, rebellious cool. The film is bursting with smouldering sexiness and the Led Zeppelin track just makes it really, really cool. 

This film has positioned Dior Homme in completely new territory and managed to do so while holding attracting a lot of attention and a lot of eyeballs. Dior has just given the brand a huge amount of street cred. 

And, It may still have more magic to deliver with speculation that Pattinson will play James Dean in an upcoming biopic, which will serve to further reinforce the positioning of this brand.


This unexpected film has done a great job of instilling a cool street cred into a brand that stood for very little. A great example of branded entertainment. 

  • 3 stars. 



Jeremy Garling

16 Sep 2014

Interesting work and I can see how the reaction could be mixed, but agreed Danielle...it starts repositioning the brand. Now...what is next for Dior?!

Add your comment