Why Was the Belle d’Opium Fragrance by Yves St Laurent Ad Banned in the UK?


A real scandal broke out just a few days after the new commercial of the Belle d’Opium by YSL had been shown on TV. The commercial was considered to propagandize drugs. But what did the public and the critics dislike?

The main heroine of the commercial is the famous French actress and model Melanie Thierry. She is dancing a divine and provoking dance. It must be all, the whole plot. But in the girl’s movements and her choreography, the experts saw some analogy with the actions of a drug addict. Moreover, the final phrase of the commercial was “I am your addiction, I am Belle D’Opium. The new fragrance by Yves St Laurent”.

Thus, Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) banned the showing of the scandalous commercial on February 2, 2011. They called it irresponsible in its appeal to the consumer.

The critics claimed that the commercial demonstrated the behavior of a woman who uses drugs. While dancing in the first part of the video, Melanie makes a gesture which resembles that of drug addicts making heroin injections. Then the effect from taking the drug is painted in bright colors: excitement and new emotions. And at last one can see the organism’s final reaction to the drug.

The British choreographer Akram Khan, who staged the dance for the commercial, refutes all analogies. He says he wanted to create a dance illustrating the way women reacted to a new fragrance: inspiration drawn from the scent, inner energy, inner passion, and desire. Exactly these reactions were shown in the commercial.

According to the choreographer, the movement of the finger on the arm is not an injection, it is rather a stream of energy in the heroine’s body, and her falling onto the ground is a desire to obtain underground energy.

The company which produced the commercial denies all accusations. The YSL representatives have conducted their own investigation. They interrogated 96 French and 400 British women, and none of them wanted to take drugs after watching the commercial.

But the ASA organization is implacable. They think an average consumer may misunderstand the commercial and will subconsciously develop a positive image of drug addiction.

Well, it is up to you to judge what feelings this video evokes in you. What do you think? Should such commercial be banned?