Dior released a new eye-catching Native American-themed video starring Johnny Depp to promote their perfume line, ‘Sauvage’, on Aug. 30 and followers were quick to point out its flaws.
Dior is under major scrutiny after releasing a new perfume ad featuring Native American visuals that some are deeming totally inappropriate. The popular French company took to Twitter on Aug. 30 to post the promotional video for their $150 fragrance, Sauvage, and although it starred Johnny Depp, one of the world’s most recognizable actors, people were quick to call out the brand and even accuse them of cultural appropriation.
Dior initially didn’t seem to think the ad, which shows Johnny playing a song by Shawnee guitarist Link Wray on guitar and walking in Utah as Native American war dancer Canku One Star performs on a cliff, would offend when it called it “an authentic journey deep into the Native American soul in a sacred, founding and secular territory” in the caption for the post, but it brought on a large number of responses that pointed out how it was wrong and shouldn’t have been made.
“I keep seeing these @Dior Sauvage ads, and aside from just breaking my heart with the racism and stereotypes, I can’t help but wonder for what other race would we ever allow such an ad campaign? It just baffles me. The invisibility of Indigenous communities is real,” reporter Graham Lee Brewer tweeted about the ad. “The absurdity of the @Dior #Sauvage Ad w/ Johnny Depp: • Supposedly anti-appropriation, but goes balls deep in appropriation. • Titles the actress as maiden & the native actor, warrior. • Says it is helping Native folx, but invokes stupid/ignorant ‘indian’ tropes,” another Twitter user wrote.
Others brought up the French name of the fragrance, which translates to “wild” or “savage” in English, and why that could also be offensive to many. “‘Sauvage’ is the word the racist mobs were screaming when they stoned Mohawk civilians during the Oka crisis,” one tweet read.
This ad is unlisted on YouTube so that's why it hasn't gotten as much attention as the teaser in the first tweet in this thread.
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) August 30, 2019
I keep seeing these @Dior Sauvage ads, and aside from just breaking my heart with the racism and stereotypes, I can’t help but wonder for what other race would we ever allow such an ad campaign? It just baffles me. The invisibility of Indigenous communities is real.
— Graham Lee Brewer (@grahambrewer) August 31, 2019
Dior was quick to remove the ad from their Twitter page after receiving a lot of criticism, but in a press release about the video, which was released before its debut, the company insisted they created the ad in collaboration with Native American consultants and Americans for Indian Opportunity, an advocacy group, to avoid offensive imagery and being deemed inappropriate. They explained that they were focusing on “moving away from clichés in order to avoid the cultural appropriation and subversion that so often taints images representing Native peoples”.
Dior first launched its Sauvage perfume lines in the 1960s and has continued to get called out from using the name alongside Native American imagery. Johnny has yet to speak out about the latest criticism.