Clive Christian ≈ Queen Victoria, Who Knew?: Deconstructing The Royal Ad Copy {The 5th Sense in the News}

Clive-Christian.jpgPromoting a perfume as being the most expensive in the world is not new. Joy by Jean Patou is probably the best-known example of this genre of ultra-competitive globally-framed advertising. Clive Christian is the current official holder of the title as the Guinness Book of World Records has handed him the sceptre.

Derek McCormack writes an ironic and funny piece about the branding efforts of Clive Christian around an interview with Victoria Christian, his daughter. It helps to show how perfume as a luxury product, not necessarily a work of art, is immensely susceptible to effects of prestige. In fact one sometimes sense that promoting a perfume is an operation that must feel like walking delicately on egg shells to the people in charge of the luxury image. Queen Victoria, a crown logo, a noble motto, crystal, gold, diamond etc. are all needed to make it look legitimate and steeped in tradition. These efforts certainly do not just stem from the brand owners' own dishevelled thoughts however. Customers, rich and not-so-rich, love royalty too so it makes good business sense to indulge,

"Fax animi honestae gloria," she says, reading the Latin motto inscribed on Clive Christian's coat of arms. " ' In honourable thoughts, glory is born.' The coat of arms was granted us by the Royal College of Arms." Royal regalia is of paramount importance to the Clive Christian company. "You see that each of the stoppers on our bottles is in the shape of Queen Victoria's crown," she says. "It was the only time that Queen Victoria gave an image of her crown to be used by a company."...

Victoria in L'Illustration, 25 août 1855


This is true. Queen Victoria did indeed grant the image of her crown - to the Crown Perfumery, a London firm founded in 1872. Which, in 1999, Clive Christian bought, before tossing out all its trademark scents. Christian then commissioned his own scents and packaged them in Crown's bottles. He named his scent 1872 after the year in which Crown was incorporated; the scent, however, was never actually manufactured by Crown.

"I suppose you could say that Clive and Queen Victoria are similar in that they both had a vision," Victoria Christian continues. "Hundreds of years later, she wanted people to see what her crown represents. My father makes perfumes that represent the finest in English perfume." Clive Christian hopes that if he speaks like a Victorian perfumer, and looks like a Victorian perfumer, and smells like a Victorian perfumer, then customers will believe he is an authentic Victorian perfumer. He is not, however, a Victorian perfumer; in fact he's not a perfumer at all. He's an interior designer.

Read more in Clive Christian Smells Expensive...

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