Perfume Pen Pals: Brut Gets Political



Katie,

Here’s a screenshot from the Brut USA page on Amazon, and I have questions:


First, it’s curious that a ‘70s drugstore cologne is getting into matters political and philosophical, and while I don’t imagine anyone is looking to Brut as an opinion leader on important matters — or on fragrance matters — I’m vaguely troubled by the way it feels like the big fat Tolstoy quote is addressing the little black bar of Black Lives Matter support. Because BLM is indeed changing the world and it appears someone at Brut (and how weird is it to think that in 2021, there are actual people at Brut?) decided to answer the company’s stance with a bastardized quote they found on the Internet.

Plus, that garish eagle (are those icicles hanging from its plumage?) seems specifically designed for an entirely different audience, an attempt to cover all bases.

If this weren’t confusing enough, exploring who is responsible for the Brut USA Amazon page quickly leads down a rabbit hole of corporate acquisitions and indifference. Brut by Fabergé is long gone and in its place are as many as three companies, all seemingly vying for the honor of producing the worst approximation of the classic drugstore cologne.

The logos on the various bottles, and the USA in the name, indicate it’s the Idelle Labs/Helen of Troy version, which is based out of Texas, which syncs up with the eagle.



Except the other logo, the one above the Tolstoy quote, belongs to Unilever, a massive European conglomerate that puts out a separate line of disappointing Brut products, all of which say they’re manufactured by Parfums Prestige, a small French company that despite not having much going on, doesn't even bother to mention Brut on its website.

If that weren’t enough to distract you from the BLM/Tolstoy/eagle menagerie, Brut USA’s Amazon page includes a vintage commercial from Brut's Fabergé days, advertising a fragrance that no longer exists. 


 

Not to put too fine a point on this (too late?), but the Brut logo at the top of the Amazon page — a logo that doesn’t seem to appear on any Brut products — includes the article-less phrase “MADE IN U.S.A.” Except when you link to the listed products, you learn they’re all manufactured in Mexico.

Brut symbolizes a world in which the future feels more uncertain than ever. And now it also symbolizes my propensity for wasting time. And yet I have a funny feeling about the person who included that Tolstoy quote, that’s still my bottom line.

Dan

16 comments:

  1. Ah, but back in my high school days Brut was the scent status symbol of choice. Some of poor guys had to make due with Hai Karate or Dad’s Old Spice. All it takes is one whiff of Brut to take me back to those heady days of youth.

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    1. Same here, Randall, except I had no idea Brut was a status symbol. I should apply to have my high-school ranking retroactively upgraded. It’s just so much paperwork, I’d have to hire a notary, get new headshots, etc.

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    2. Dan! You just gave me the idea that I should get showbiz headshots done high school senior year-style: with the black drape over bare shoulders. Or maybe I should wear the guys' rental tux...?

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    3. What do you mean rental tux? For our senior photos, we got a little "tuxedo bib,” the haberdashery equivalent of those old Universal-lot TV houses that are only false fronts. Stick with the black drape.

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    4. Tuxedo bib...? Graduation accoutrements have really gone downhill since I was a lad.

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    5. Institutionalized humiliation was a big thing where I grew up. Which is probably why Randall and I went seeking solace in our bottles of Brut.

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  2. That eagle was enough for me. Also, I was thrilled to get an email from Katie Puckrik Smells. Hello Dan and Katie!

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    1. Hey melisand61! I bet you never expected a KP Smells email to include MAGA clip-art. (I’m sorry for that.) I wonder if the eagle was made in Mexico, too.

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    2. Hi Melissa! Thanks for following the breadcrumbs back here. x

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  3. Hey--I'm so glad you included me in this email! I'm a liberal in believe it or not a very RED enclave: Calaveras County (home of the Gavin recall...:( I find the whole thing, eagle, icicles, the Made in the USA (not) disgusting. On a day when Liz Cheny gets ousted from her seat at the Republican table this is particularly disturbing to hear about Brut (a scent that made me all wobbly for the high school heart throbs at school dances--I lacked a certain worldly taste back then). While she (and her devil daddy) have not exactly been my heroes, she made a heroic last stand. Thank you for tracing the various iterations/sources of "Brut."

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    1. I believe Brut’s original owners, shiva-woman, in addition to being much better at fragrances, would have also been less lazy and ham-fisted at political messaging. So don’t let these new guys spoil your Brut memories.

      I have family near you…family to whom I no longer speak. I’m pretty sure they own shirts with that eagle on it.

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  4. Umm...Brut...ality? Was that intentional or an oversight? Way to go marketing team. Ssssmelen of Troy!

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  5. Watched you on Britain's Favourite Songs of 1991. Agreed with your comments, plus you looked lovely as ever. I couldn't believe it when I read you're 58! Have you found the same fountain of youth that Paul Rudd has?!

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    1. Your flattering comments are my fountain of youth, Hamid! Thank you kindly.

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    2. You're very welcome!

      On another subject, some time back I watched the BFI interview you did about The Word. It was really annoying how Terry Christian hogged so much of the conversation and kept talking incessantly and making jokes only he found funny. You had the patience of an angel!

      I know you're too polite and diplomatic to comment on it here, but I just wanted to let you know I empathised!

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  6. Hi Katie, I hope you are doing well. A bit of a long shot, but I have an olfactive request: Could you possibly indulge us with some of your current favorite perfume discoveries?

    You see, I'm a bit tired of smelling like myself, which is gourmand. I desire to smell not like me; I want to smell like the other, that I've been somewhere. Like outside. But somewhere faraway, alien, "disturbing", stimulating. Not hanging out in the baking aisle of Walmart for the past two-some years. No offense to those who like to hang out there. Thank you, L.

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