Christmas time is already here, and what goes with it – the many perfume ads on TV. They stand out and have a different feeling from your typical Christmasy ads. They are often shot in the style of professional movies and more often than not, leave us questioning the meaning behind them. During one of these commercials, I found an inspiration to create this B2 speaking-driven lesson plan.
I’m not going to lie – these ads confuse me more than anything in the world. They are so bizarre that they started a household game called Guess the scent. The rules are simple, watch the ad, and based on the visuals, try to predict three scents you could find in one of those bottles. Use the shape of the bottle and the perfume name to come to your conclusions. I felt so passionate about the topic that I brought it to one of my conversational classes and eventually turned it into a video-based speaking-driven lesson plan.
At the end of the post, you can find the lesson plan, the presentation and the worksheet needed to conduct the class.
I thought that it would be good to warm the students up with a brief revision of the five senses: touch, taste, hearing, sight, and of course, smell. To ensure that we can see all the senses, I decided to go with the classic Lindt Excellence TV commercial. Watch the video and write down the words that come to their minds and are associated with the senses.
After the video, elicit some answers used to describe each sense. Discuss which part of the video made the students feel this way and think of some other commercials that make students connect with their senses. What visuals do these commercials use that allow them to feel this way?
It’s time for the fun part – talking about the weird perfume commercials. Start by discussing a typical perfume ad that they can see on television. Maybe some new ones particularly stand out in their minds at the moment. Think about the things that you would normally find in such commercials. Proceed by showing three bottles of perfumes. I decided to go with the following feminine fragrance: Lancôme – Idôle, Dior – J’adore and Yves Saint Laurent – Black Opium.
Looking only at the packaging and the name of the perfumes, ask students to predict the type of smell they would expect from each one. With more advanced groups, you can ask them to discuss three scents they could pick up from each fragrance, e.g. vanilla, rose, musk, etc. You can also predict which of them you would wear during the day, and which one you would wear at night. What makes them feel this way?
After the discussion, show three descriptions of the perfumes and match them with the bottles. All three extracts were copied from their original websites. Since the descriptions are quite cryptic, you may have to explain some words.
- Lancôme – Idôle: With its alluring scent and sharp thorns, the rose symbolises the complexity of femininity. Oil of Jasmine absolutes acts as a gentle yet generous accompaniment to the perfume’s heart. An abundance of radiant petals blended with musks, form a sophisticated citrus alliance, which recalls the airy freshness of just-washed linens.
- Dior – J’adore: Finely crafted down to the last detail, like a custom-made flower, it is a bouquet of the most beautiful flowers from around the world. The essence of Ylang-Ylang with its floral and fruity notes and the essence of Damascus Rose from Turkey blend with a rare duo of Jasmine Grandiflorum from Grasse and Indian Jasmine Sambac, with fruity and voluptuous sensuality.
- YSL – Black Opium: This seductive women’s perfume is inspired by the edgy and daring woman. Emboldened by the strong scent of coffee, the sensuous warm floral vanilla perfume captivates the senses with a sweet vanilla base and a burst of floral at the heart of the fragrance.
Now it’s time to watch the ads. Watch all three of them and discuss if the videos helped students match the descriptions of perfumes with the bottles. It’s ok if the ads didn’t clarify anything – that’s the whole point! You may want to engage students in a discussion of how the women of different ages change our perception of smell and the target demographic.
It’s time to have a short discussion about the idea behind the perfume ads. Think what perfume commercials try to sell – the smell or the feeling? Focus on each of the women, and the way they are portrayed, for example, free, powerful, and unstoppable. Elicit other adjectives that come up during the lesson. How do students feel when they wear perfumes? Do perfumes change their behaviour and increase their confidence? What perfume are they currently using? How did they choose it, and why did they decide to buy it? Do they wear the same perfumes or switch them up?
Finish the class with a short, fun and very creative project. Students think about scents that would best represent them. Ask them to think of ingredients that would be found in their fragrance and the shape of the bottle. What about the name of this perfume? If you have some more time, you can ask them to think of a short ad concept and a song that would be used in the background. Students present their projects to the rest of the group.
If you enjoyed this lesson plan, click the links below and use them in your class! You can also access the presentation using the Canva link. Edit the presentation and make it your own!