Genre @ Large: Mother of Carbs!

Advertising Image, Dolce & Gabbana

We know what characters are: the fictional personae that populate our pages and screens. We know what actors are too: the paid professionals who portray those characters on screens and stages. A squishier grey area in the middle is populated by two (frequently overlapping) concepts: the actor’s “public persona” (the image they project when they are in the public eye as “themselves,” which is not entirely unperformative) and the “actor text,” or valance of associations from prior roles that tend to attach themselves to performers.

While it’s important to remember that actors are not their characters, and that the image they project in the public eye may be better or worse than (or simply different from) the person known to their intimates, etc, the actor text is a forgivably persistent complication. Indeed, casting directors (think of “type-casting”) and brands alike actively enlist it to create immediate connections between projects or commodities and iconic characters and stories, all through the celebrity persona of the actor. To cite a recent example, you don’t have to get a license from Marvel to style Samuel L. Jackson in a way that immediately evokes his performance as Nick Fury in Avengers et al in connection with your product, you “just” need Mr. Jackson himself. Sometimes you get brilliant matches, other results can be more…confusing.

One has to assume that luxury fashion brand Dolce & Gabbana is in some way deliberately riffing on associations with Game of Thrones, given its decision to cast series stars Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen) and Kit Harington (Jon Snow) in its new campaign for perfume “The One”, but as to how, precisely, things are slightly more mystifying. This move certainly signals that GoT has had a role in bringing genre televison ever more into mainstream culture, but while the actors are strongly identified with these memorable roles, what that has to do with perfume is rather more obscure.

Let’s start with the Emilia Clarke ad. Her hair brunette instead of the iconic Targaryen silver, she perches in lascivious and photo-shopped focus in front of a veritable ocean of carbs: pastas and breads. They look delicious. Perhaps this is supposed to evoke a (carbolicious) feast after a day of dragon-riding? Perhaps the iconography awards her a new title: Mother of Carbs. Either way, one may be forgiven for confessing confusion as to how either pasta or dragons relate to perfume, unless the perfume is supposed to evoke the aforementioned post-dragon-riding feast? Notes of charred wool and stewed tomato?

Finding no easy answers there, we’ll turn to Kit Harington’s ad in hopes of enlightenment:

Advertising image, Dolce & Gabbana

Well, Harington’s expression of mild bewilderment is certainly familiar from GoT. It’s safe to surmise he knows nothing about why the gentleman on the left is offering him a squid, the one on the right wants to hold hands with him, and yet another waits impatiently to show him a statue. It’s an authentically Jon Snow-esque moment, thrust into circumstances where everyone but him seems to know the rules, and the rules are, frankly, a bit weird. Again, it’s uncertain what this moment might smell like–seafood and confusion?–but there you have it, two high-profile genre stars from the same series, a luxury good, and a mystery for the ages. Perhaps it’s all in a name, and this perfume is the scent for “the one” who can win the iron throne in the end? We may never know.

Based on imagery (and associations) alone, what do YOU think these perfumes smell like?

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