Female Fantasies? The Nose Knows!

 

Glade Autumn GlampfireScented candles. What are they for? Ask a man, and you might get varying answers – for masking the stank of indifferent housekeeping; for turning one’s home into a firetrap (bonus if careless children and pets serve as the arsonists); for frittering away money; for making grown men sneeze. Like cushions, scented candles seem an item of home decor most men could do without. Indeed, 90% of candles are purchased by women. Yet candles grace seven out of ten households and come in more than 10,000 different scents for US customers alone.

As the autumn nights draw in, even earlier now that our clocks are set back, the clever advertisers at Glade invite you into the mind of their typical female consumer, so you can see what all the scented fuss is about. “LET TEMPTATION FILL THE AIR,” Glade’s ad proclaims, as a sultry alto invites you to “Dare to let fragrance take you places you never thought you’d go…”

The first place you never thought you’d go is apparently behind some dark curtains, where a handsome young buck – almost certainly younger than you, the consumer, are – approaches. He hands you an invitation. To a “glampfire”. “Enter If You DARE,” it reads. Glampfires are mad sexy and everyone knows it – his invitation couldn’t scream sex any harder if he’d stapled a condom to it.

You open the French (therefore sexy) doors to enter a Moorish bar with a French (therefore sexy) bartender. The tender gently strokes the length of the bar with a soft cloth. What elixirs does he display to tempt you with? Glade home fragrances, of course! After all, what could be more intoxicating?

Once suitably drunk on the power of home aroma modification, you meander deeper into the bowels of this Moorish palace, hand trailing languidly along an ivy-covered banister. Thanks to the power of Glade, the palace’s interior is overgrown in a riot of vegetation – entire pine trees, herbaceous borders popping out of jars. You turn your head and there, before a bower of autumn blossoms dark as sin, is The Moor himself. He takes you by the hand, teeth gleaming, into a nocturnal bower. He is there to help you discover yourself…

By, er… taking your picture, of course. After all, SC Johnson, purveyor of fine Glade products, is still a family company. (It has a wife company and little kid companies at home.)

Gazing at your own pale, sapphire-eyed image, you realize you are a femme fatale – as exotic as blue-eyed white girls get. Your narcissism thus sated, you draw near to an amber-colored candle. You are Alice in Wonderland, and the tiny orange peyote buttons tricked out like miniature magic pumpkins hold the key to your dreams – and beyond.

The courtyard door, grown impossibly small – dollhouse-like, opens. An almond-eyed Nubianess, grown towering by comparison, beckons. Her swaying steps will lead you to the place beyond your dreams.

What is this place?

A tea party, of course! The petits-fours are all pumpkin-spice flavored; the cups, impossibly dainty. Doll’s cups – all women are secretly children still longing to play tea with their dollies, dollies brought to life in exotic grownup form by the power of Glade’s “magic pumpkins”. The Nubianess’s downcast gaze suddenly lifts to meet your own, and you are transported once more – transported direct into Eden.

You pluck a magic apple (labeled just for you, O fairest) from the golden tree. Through the flaming, aurulent forest wafts flamenco music. Because why not? Don’t apples remind everyone of flamenco? A woman in a red dress appears in the distance. She is sinuous. She is exotic – a femme even more fatale than you are. She is Huma Abedin, and she is dancing just for you.

Now all afire with Glade-scented sapphism, you rush toward her, offering the apple. Once the fruit is within her orbit, the magic of her gaze teleports it directly into her own hand, and she takes a bite…

That is what awaits you with Glade’s invitation. Toldja glampfires were mad sexy. “Ignite your daring side,” the sultry alto croons. The dark curtains rustle. If the Moor, the Nubianess, and Huma weren’t enough for you, that young buck is still waiting in the wings…

So, intoxication and polymorphous perversity. That’s why scented candles are so popular – they’re nose porn for women. Or at least that’s what the good folks at Glade promise. And they would know, right?

“Feel tempted,” Glade suggests, suggestively. And for a microsecond, I am tempted – tempted to suppose Said was onto something with his critique of orientalism: though I’ve never thought ill of orientalists myself, the “exotic”, “oriental” tropes on display in this Glade ad are an intersectional deconstruction just waiting to happen. (Hello, Everyday Feminism!)

Now, perhaps you might still think a woman could be forgiven for believing that all scented candles are good for is making one’s home smell marginally nicer while adding a little ambiance by way of fire hazard. But women, if your scented candle doesn’t ignite your daring, dissipated, exotic side, you’re doing it wrong!

And men, the next time you see a woman in the scented candle aisle, cautiously sniffing the bounteous variety on offer, give her a little privacy…

Image Credit: Jeff Schear, Getty, from Glade’s Autumn Glampfire Event at the New Regal Theater

There are 75 comments.

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  1. Titus Techera Contributor

    Bravo!

    • #1
    • November 9, 2016, at 5:13 PM PDT
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  2. iWe Reagan
    iWe

    Whoa.

    Now I know why I hate all scents and perfumes. It must be my jealous side.

    • #2
    • November 9, 2016, at 5:25 PM PDT
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  3. iWe Reagan
    iWe

    I just watched the ad. The visual smells were so visceral that I actually felt nauseous.

    It is amazing that humans manage to reproduce.

    • #3
    • November 9, 2016, at 5:28 PM PDT
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  4. blank generation member Inactive

    Far out. Didn’t I see like a humungous pot bud in there? Now that smell will get some guys going.

    • #4
    • November 9, 2016, at 5:31 PM PDT
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  5. Chris O. Member

    Whoa! Guess I won’t be able to do the grocery shopping ever again without thinking about this. If by “give her a little privacy” you mean “suppress laughter” then I will try my best.

    • #5
    • November 9, 2016, at 5:32 PM PDT
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  6. Matt Balzer, Imperialist Claw Member

    And here I thought it was just because they smell good. The more fool I.

    Also, “glampfire”? No. Just no.

    • #6
    • November 9, 2016, at 5:35 PM PDT
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  7. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor

    Chris O.: If by “give her a little privacy” you mean “suppress laughter” then I will try my best.

    The ad is tear-jerkingly hilarious, truly.

    • #7
    • November 9, 2016, at 5:36 PM PDT
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  8. Randy Webster Member

    I didn’t understand at least half of that.

    • #8
    • November 9, 2016, at 5:37 PM PDT
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  9. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor

    Randy Webster:I didn’t understand at least half of that.

    I am still trying to figure out why they made the commercial. Aside from Glade holding their “glampfire” event at New Regal Theater, which is a beautiful moorish-revival building.

    • #9
    • November 9, 2016, at 5:41 PM PDT
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  10. Randy Webster Member

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake:

    Randy Webster:I didn’t understand at least half of that.

    I am still trying to figure out why they made the commercial. Aside from Glade holding their “glampfire” event at New Regal Theater, which is a beautiful Moorish-revival building.

    As usual, I’ll have to ask my wife what it means.

    • #10
    • November 9, 2016, at 5:42 PM PDT
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  11. Chris O. Member

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake: I am still trying to figure out why they made the commercial.

    I’m sure the 84-page RFP from the ad agency made total sense at the time.

    • #11
    • November 9, 2016, at 5:44 PM PDT
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  12. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor

    Randy Webster:

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake:

    Randy Webster:I didn’t understand at least half of that.

    I am still trying to figure out why they made the commercial. Aside from Glade holding their “glampfire” event at New Regal Theater, which is a beautiful Moorish-revival building.

    As usual, I’ll have to ask my wife what it means.

    Show her the commercial and see if she laughs. I think you’d have to have a heart of stone not to!

    • #12
    • November 9, 2016, at 5:48 PM PDT
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  13. Randy Webster Member

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake:

    Randy Webster:

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake:

    Randy Webster:I didn’t understand at least half of that.

    I am still trying to figure out why they made the commercial. Aside from Glade holding their “glampfire” event at New Regal Theater, which is a beautiful Moorish-revival building.

    As usual, I’ll have to ask my wife what it means.

    Show her the commercial and see if she laughs. I think you’d have to have a heart of stone not to!

    You can lead a wife to a monitor, but you can’t make her watch a commercial. My chances of success are very low.

    • #13
    • November 9, 2016, at 5:50 PM PDT
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  14. Titus Techera Contributor

    Ok, who’s up for explanations nobody asked for & few enjoy? Ok, we’re off to the races.

    • #14
    • November 9, 2016, at 5:59 PM PDT
    • Like
  15. Jimmy Carter Member

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake: And men, the next time you see a woman in the scented candle aisle, cautiously sniffing the bounteous variety on offer, give her a little privacy…

    A little privacy? I don’t think so. I’m getting Her number. Glade’s already done all the foreplay for Me.

    • #15
    • November 9, 2016, at 6:03 PM PDT
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  16. Titus Techera Contributor

    So what’s going on in the video is clearly a running commentary on the old adage, you sell the sizzle, not the steak. Well, the scent. It’s a book-ended dream, a made-up dream, a fantasy for sale. The scent is not supposed to lead you on the chase, by the way. You can tell by the un-Romantic, too witty & ironic & insincere composition & sequence & references. This kind of self-awareness is about calming down passions, not exciting them.

    So at its highest level, it’s a kind of work to tamp down eroticism. Why?

    • #16
    • November 9, 2016, at 6:12 PM PDT
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  17. Titus Techera Contributor

    Well, look at the composition. This is supposed to be a secretive, private, maybe even subterranean, nocturnal encounter of some kind. Ultimately, it is revealed to be a matter of self-love. Women want to be loved in a way that’s way more about beholding than about holding. From the point of view of the woman, apparently, the character of desire is essentially relative. It is teasing, in short.

    Well, what’s wrong with that if that’s what they like?

    • #17
    • November 9, 2016, at 6:14 PM PDT
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  18. Titus Techera Contributor

    I’ve told you the story there, but not the structure, the other element of composition. I’ll leave that aside & focus on one thing, how clean everything is. Everything is made up in this kind of fantasy. Reality & accidents are not allowed to creep in–eroticism must be sanitized completely or almost completely to be tolerable to women, apparently.

    Well, maybe so, but why bother with all this stuff? What’s the problem?

    • #18
    • November 9, 2016, at 6:16 PM PDT
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  19. WinterMute Coolidge

    Scented candles used to give me headaches when I was younger, now I have one burning most nights. My brain must truly be putty in Glade’s hands.

    • #19
    • November 9, 2016, at 6:18 PM PDT
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  20. Titus Techera Contributor

    The unspoken problem is the men. They offer the invitation, lead women into desire, & obsess with them. Men do not think of desire as primarily a matter of beholding, but a matter of holding. They do not have the sense for the intricate, made up stuff, they do not care at all about art when it comes to eroticism & will collapse nature & chance whenever given the chance.

    The erotic arts are therefore the self-defense of women. That’s the revelation of the erotic dancer from South of the border, where law is replaced by love.

    The temptation for women is to let themselves be loved without educating men about love. To leave it at how society makes things, whether in the old fashion alluded to by the exquisite manners & attires or the new fashion alluded to by the point-of-view of a single woman. So why is that so bad?

    • #20
    • November 9, 2016, at 6:19 PM PDT
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  21. Titus Techera Contributor

    Because we are now living in a super-erotic world. Being is itself understood as essentially relative. That is, for things to come to view as having being a relation of desire has to obtain first. Like the world becomes a world for the invisible woman as an arrangement of desirable things, beauties & pleasures. Only in this world does the woman become visible to herself, as herself desirable, but hopefully unattainable.

    Her dance is self-contained & musical & does not require completion.

    This means defending the satisfaction of desire as desire, not merely as getting what one wants. That kind of trickery or playfulness is the erotic education because it forces people to wait. No one can learn what they truly desire if they get what they think they desire. Why? Because they would feel morally obligated to identify desire with that satisfaction when once it occurs.

    • #21
    • November 9, 2016, at 6:22 PM PDT
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  22. Chris O. Member

    Titus Techera:Ok, who’s up for explanations nobody asked for & few enjoy? Ok, we’re off to the races.

    For the past few years, the buzzword in the industry has been “edgy.” We did a print ad for a Moms’ membership nonprofit a while back, only to be told our free offering wasn’t “edgy” enough. My description might be “meant for a mass audience.” This ad (sort of) isn’t.

    Scented candles are the edge. They’re the thing that makes you dangerous. They put you into an uncertain moment that might sweep you away, and that, by the way, is a good thing.

    I think that was the pitch. Midge did a great job of parodying it.

    • #22
    • November 9, 2016, at 6:24 PM PDT
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  23. Titus Techera Contributor

    Of course, this is ultimately a critique of capitalism, because it reduces the world to people getting what they want if they’re willing to work for it. It discounts that which is not work–play or leisure–& it demotes love from its centrality in private life in favor of the commercial life.

    One way to see this is to see that the commercial publicizes private things, including the most private or secretive or obscure things–dreams, fantasies. This fails to reveal the heart to itself, but instead threatens to turn the world into people chasing fantasies they do not understand are mere fantasies.

    This sort of attack on getting satisfaction is meant to point from the fantasies, by artful images & sequences, to that which seeks satisfaction. It makes eros central so that it becomes visible–even if it is as invisible as scent or smoke. That always threatens to make eros into a panderer for wealth, but it’s a risk many of the critics of the commercial society have chosen to take, whether wisely or no.

    • #23
    • November 9, 2016, at 6:27 PM PDT
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  24. Titus Techera Contributor

    Finis!

    Chris O.:

    Titus Techera:Ok, who’s up for explanations nobody asked for & few enjoy?

    For the past few years, the buzzword in the industry has been “edgy.” We did a print ad for a Moms’ membership nonprofit a while back, only to be told our free offering wasn’t “edgy” enough. My description might be “meant for a mass audience.” This ad (sort of) isn’t.

    Scented candles are the edge. They’re the thing that makes you dangerous. They put you into an uncertain moment that might sweep you away, and that, by the way, is a good thing.

    I think that was the pitch. Midge did a great job of parodying it

    Yeah, that’s about the size of it. It’s for women who want respectability but find it boring at the same time. Hard to thread that needle, really. As utter mediocrity goes, this ad isn’t bad. It’s polished, which reveals certain things, as I’ve tried to show, but it also conceals the mediocrity, which conceals the intention behind it.

    The psychology is not hard to make sense of, but it’s really hard to do anything about or help in our circumstances. Private life is continuously publicized, without any benefit to private life, but making people desperate about whether they can know that they’re human beings seeking to love & be loved by other human beings. Moralistic recriminations thrive at the same time. All sides make money, too

    • #24
    • November 9, 2016, at 6:33 PM PDT
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  25. Percival Thatcher

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake: Once suitably drunk on the power of home aroma modification, you meander deeper into the bowels of this Moorish palace, hands trailing languidly along an ivy-covered banister. Thanks to the power of Glade, the palace’s interior is overgrown in a riot of vegetation – entire pine trees, herbaceous borders popping out of jars. You turn your head and there, before a bower of autumn blossoms dark as sin, is The Moor himself. He takes you by the hand, teeth gleaming, into a nocturnal bower. He is there to help you discover yourself…

    … and say “make me a sammich, wouldya?”

    • #25
    • November 9, 2016, at 6:42 PM PDT
    • Like
  26. Percival Thatcher

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake: Scented candles. What are they for? Ask a man, and you might get varying answers – for masking the stank of indifferent housekeeping; for turning one’s home into a firetrap (bonus if careless children and pets serve as the arsonists); for frittering away money; for making grown men sneeze.

    They are for turning an entire aisle at Walmart into a male no-go zone. You ladies could be hiding anything back there.

    • #26
    • November 9, 2016, at 6:45 PM PDT
    • Like
  27. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor

    Chris O.:

    Titus Techera:Ok, who’s up for explanations nobody asked for & few enjoy? Ok, we’re off to the races.

    For the past few years, the buzzword in the industry has been “edgy.” We did a print ad for a Moms’ membership nonprofit a while back, only to be told our free offering wasn’t “edgy” enough.

    Oh – ahaha! Nonprofit material for mothers must be edgy too now?

    Scented candles are the edge. They’re the thing that makes you dangerous. They put you into an uncertain moment that might sweep you away, and that, by the way, is a good thing.

    I think that was the pitch. Midge did a great job of parodying it.

    All I had to do was write down what was happening!

    It surprises me how much production value (is that the right word?) goes into advertising these functional fragrances. Apparently, Glade rented the New Regal Theater to shoot the commercial, then left the ad sets up and invited folks over for a gala where they really used that bar as a fragrance bar – folks could sample Glade fragrances as if they were fine perfumes or wines. No doubt some functional fragrance products smell better than others, but offering a setup to savor them intensely did strike me as rather comical.

    • #27
    • November 9, 2016, at 6:51 PM PDT
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  28. Done Contributor

    This is one of the greatest posts in the history of the site.

    • #28
    • November 9, 2016, at 7:11 PM PDT
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  29. iWe Reagan
    iWe

    Percival: They are for turning an entire aisle at Walmart into a male no-go zone. You ladies could be hiding anything back there.

    I cannot so much as walk into a Michaels because of all the smelly things that obviously attract women, but to me are an assault on my organ of scents and sensibilities.

    • #29
    • November 9, 2016, at 7:12 PM PDT
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  30. Titus Techera Contributor

    Over the weekend, I was in Orange County, the Isles of the Blessed, at the local mall for wealthy people, where people not so wealthy go around and do not enter into the astounding diamond shops. Shoppes? Irregardless, I was led into the local Sephora, where I was faced with the revelation of the giddiness & insecurities of California women. Was I weeping for your country? For the girls? For the visual-olfactory assault? It is hard to say; my Beatrice did not share my sentiments & as much as wrote me off for my infinite irony. I did win back her friendship.

    There was not much music in the shop, by the way.

    I’ll add another note. Just about everywhere you looked in the mall–except Mordor, where there was a Safeway or something like that–it was all about glamour, i.e. polished mediocrity. & there were some things that could be called classy or at least decent. But the way people dressed was California all the way. It’s more like a performance than anything else with these Americans, I’m telling you–like with end-of-the-world moralism. You gotta look the part.

    Whereas in the couple of men’s sartorial emporia that I visited, polished mediocrity was simply unbeatable. No taste whatsoever. Reminded me of a Brooks Brothers I had visited in D.C., the Isles of the Blessed. American men are so badly outmatched in sartorial matters by European men I marvel at American dating…

    • #30
    • November 9, 2016, at 7:21 PM PDT
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