Dakota Fanning’s New Perfume Ad: What Were They Thinking?

Dakota Fanning-Marc Jacob’s Oh, Lola

No, no, NO! What the ..?!

Yep – you see that picture at the top of this piece – that’s Hollywood star Dakota Fanning in a new commercial campaign for Marc Jacob’s new perfume – Oh, Lola.

Dakota is 17 years old.

Now I’m going to go out on a limb here and call this advert a big, fat FAIL

It’s not just the overt posing of a 17-year-old Dakota Fanning with a giant, phallic-esque perfume bottle between her legs (side note, is that actual size? Talk about value). It’s also the “come hither” gaze and the big giant flower! Please tell me I’m reading too much into this. Maybe I’m a prude. But should a 17-year-old, Hollywood actress or otherwise, be sending that kind of overtly sexual message?

Look, I can only imagine how tough it must be to transition from child actor to adult star but I think it can be done, with someone to help navigate the pitfalls. Look at Jodie Foster for example.

And maybe that’s why this Dakota Fanning ad surprises me so much. I interviewed a young Dakota years ago while on that morning show gig and she was just as nice, sweet and lovely as she could be; Dakota’s mother was there and was also gracious and appreciative.

But where in the heck was her mother when they sketched out this little ditty? Did she have a clear idea of what the final product would be and if so was she really okay with this advert? My take, oh hell do I even need to say it? No WAY would I allow my 17-year-old daughter to pose like this. Kids grow up fast enough; do we really need to speed the aging process along?

But what do you think? Is this shocking or offensive to you? Am I reading too much into the commercial? Would you let your kid pose like this – and furthermore does this make you want to buy the perfume? Lemme hear ya!

Rene Syler is a wife, mother, breast cancer advocate and television personality whose burning desire to tell the truth about modern motherhood led her to create GoodEnoughMother.com. When not spending time with her family or burning something for dinner, Rene travels the country as host of Sweet Retreats on The Live Well Network and Exhale on Aspire.

33 Comments

  1. Des Miller

    June 16, 2011 at 10:11 am

    Seriously? Maybe I’m a prude, too, but we can’t both be reading too much into this. And if we are, so are lots of other moms who think this is ridiculous. Besides, tell me how this sells perfume. Unless the point is to get them attention so that we talk about them and get the word out about their perfume (which I don’t want to even say the name for now). In that case, mission accomplished for growing name recognition but not necessarily for selling the product.

  2. Christy

    June 16, 2011 at 10:15 am

    To be fair, the flower is part of the bottle, and I don’t think that bottle shape can really be described as phallic (at least not any phallus I’ve seen!). I’m not particularly bothered by her outfit or pose. The positioning of the bottle is inappropriate, though, given her age. I guess I’m less bothered by the actual ad (which I’m not thrilled with) than I am by the publicly-stated intent for the ad: http://stylenews.peoplestylewatch.com/2011/06/10/marc-jacobs-dakota-fanning/

    Deliberately positioning a 17-year old as a “modern day lolita” is offensive.

  3. Pre

    June 16, 2011 at 10:16 am

    There is no way in ….I would let my 17yr old daughter pose like that..it looks like she is saying…come and get it…..that’s crazy and Marc Jacob’s camp should be ashamed. It’s that half line between being innocent/somewhat sexy that get’s these perverts going in the first place. Bad move Dakota..bad move.

  4. Deon Smith

    June 16, 2011 at 10:19 am

    Again, this is an issue of double standards in HOLLYWOOD. If this were JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE, DANIEL RADCLIFFE, or JOE JONAS “would this be an issue”? The problem lies with parents allowing their girls to emulate stars like FANNING as role models. Now let me be clear: I would NOT allow my daughter to pose in this manner. But if this is not the “right” time to pose in this manner then when will the time be appropriate? Poor girl has to grow up sometime. And lets not forget, most of the girls who followed her when she were younger are also growing up WITH her. This is our culture unfortunately. I see not much wrong with it (even though the old school boy in me does find it slightly disturbing.)

  5. trina

    June 16, 2011 at 10:20 am

    I really don’t see anything wrong with this pose at all. This is a 17 year old girl, but she is an actress making her own money, so I doubt her parents would say anything and if they did, she wouldn’t listen. Interesting how the bottle is strategically placed on her lap, but we can always assume why she placed it where she did. Her outfit is appropriate and to me the ad does not lend it’s eyes to anything other than the fact she is selling a product.

  6. YUMMommy

    June 16, 2011 at 10:28 am

    I am sure I am getting anything sexual from this ad. The bottle is more resting in the crease formed when you sit with your legs closed. And if that is her come hither look not sure that it will be attracting any guys.

    I think the ad is fine. And since she is 17, she is no longer a minor. Of course she is going to be shedding her child image because she wants her fans to see her in a more adult light. I think there are tons of more each ads w/ models that are actually younger than her that we could be focusing on.

    If anything this ad shows girls and women that you can be sexy without taking it off.

  7. Cathi

    June 16, 2011 at 10:47 am

    You are NOT a prude. The ad is absolutely ridiculous and one of the reason we don’t take out grandchildren into Los Angeles … Billboards!

  8. Laura

    June 16, 2011 at 11:43 am

    What is appropriate about this photo?

    There are so many things WRONG with it!

    1. What is it trying to sell? Is it something to put between our legs? Is it something to spray between our legs? Is it trying to say we smell between our legs?

    2. The composition of the photo is dreadful…oh yeah lets cut off her fingers and her legs!

    3. Is this young girl trying to sell sex? If she is, who is the market?….men wanting to abuse little girls?….yes let’s put in public something which is against the law….child pornography in the form of advertisement. Not a smart move!

    If it wasn’t explained to me….I would not know what this was…..Advertisers listen up….you sell product…and if your audience can’t figure out the main theme of the ad…..well just say you need to get a new job!

  9. m.e. johnson

    June 16, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    The company is just following a trend; the adult-i-zation of little girls, i.e., sexier clothing, spa treatments, mani-pedicures, plastic surgery, hair extensions, on and on. I’m talking 5-6-7-8-year olds. You mention Jodi Foster, that was 100 years ago. What about Miley Cyrus? Remember Brooke Shield? The same fuss was made about her ad. We everyday parents do what we do. Parents of stars do what they do. We ought to be more worried about what is happening to us non-billionaires.

  10. Faun Reese

    June 16, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    uh sure, if she was a ho! if she was posing in playboy! if she didn’t give a flip or had parents who didn’t also!!

  11. Gay Wakefield

    June 16, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    Phallic symbol in her crotch needs to go. Where is this kid’s mother??

  12. Nikki Newman

    June 16, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    I wrote something about gut instinct the other week. As far as visual language goes, this hits on all the wrong gut instinct triggers as a woman, as a girl, as a female, as a mom…you can ‘rationalise’ it as you will but it’s just wrong. Explain it away, justify it, adjust your perspective etc etc but I feel uncomfortable with it. There’s nothing that says power or knowing or inspiration here because we all know she’s a girl and she’s been placed in a reductive rather than empowering pose.

  13. Gisele

    June 16, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    Is that really Dakota holding what between her legs??? I guess you can represent yourself anyway you would like. I do not like it, I do not want the perfume. No!, I would not let my daughter pose like this. What pose will she make when she is 18?

  14. Jennifer

    June 16, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    I just don’t like the photo as I don’t think it’s flattering at all. I don’t think you’re a prude at all. I wouldn’t let my daughter pose like this … even if she was already an established actress like Dakota is. Just my personal feelings though. I would love to know if Dakota’s mom was in the building …

  15. Beth

    June 16, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    This is just wrong on so many levels…

  16. Meshia

    June 16, 2011 at 5:39 pm

    Hmmm…I can deal with the pose but, i’m sorry, due to the placement of the bottle I have NO intentions of EVERY smelling that perfume! HELLO!

  17. Jen

    June 16, 2011 at 6:24 pm

    No way would I let my daughter do this. This is not appropriate at all. BTW, have you seen The Runaways? I caught a bit of it on cable the other night and holy crap. THAT makes this ad look like a Children’s Place ad. I don’t know if Dakota is branching out and trying to ditch her good girl image or what, but I hate that she’s going this route. She’s a beautiful young woman who doesn’t need to show off her slutty side to sell crap to us.

  18. Rene Syler

    June 16, 2011 at 6:25 pm

    @Jen: No i haven’t seen the Runaways but from what I’ve heard, your assessment is spot on. I’m not sure what happened to that cute kid I interviewed for Man on Fire but I hope this whole career path doesn’t backfire on her. UGH

  19. Irene

    June 16, 2011 at 6:32 pm

    I don’t think much of Dakota Fannings mom she allowed her young daughter to be in movie Hounddog which from what I heard had a simulated rape scene…

    Someone pointed out to me today that Mandy Moore did a promotion recently totally opposite of the Fanning factor….I don’t know anymore if we can only blame the parents, tv conglomerates and producers our society accepts the over sexualization of our youth as okay…..that is an indictment in my opinion on us as a society. sad.

  20. pattyrowland

    June 17, 2011 at 7:02 am

    you’re not a prude and neither am i but today’s 17 year old in hollywood is yesterday’s 24 year old….

  21. Katherine

    June 17, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    I know this isn’t the popular consensus right now but I don’t see a problem with this at all.

    First I have to say that many non-celebrity models start out when they are 15, sometimes younger, and you would never be the wiser.
    Also (you’re not going to agree with this) Dakota is 17, not 12. I don’t see 17 year olds necessarily as “children” anymore, and it’s safe to say that the average person would not consider a 17 year old a “little girl”.
    When I was 17, I was out of high school, in college, on my own half-way across the country from my family. I was working and paying taxes. I was driving, taking mid-terms etc… (on a side note, I was doing all of this but was unable to vote in the presidential election because of my age. I wasn’t happy about that) Point being, I personally don’t see 17 as that young.
    And last, (and you’re REALLY not going to agree with this) I don’t see anything even remotely sensual about this picture. While the bottle may be “between her legs”, her legs are closed, so I’m tempted to say the bottle is sitting on her lap. She’s fully clothed, not revealing any cleavage or showing too much leg. And the expression on her face? Does not seem “come hither” to me at all. If anything she looks bored. Sorry, but I think this picture, this pose, the placement of the props etc are completely appropriate for someone her age and I don’t understand where the controversy lies.

    BUT The Runaways was not okay for someone her age in any way whatsoever…and it sucked.

  22. Rene Syler

    June 17, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    @Katherine, of course you know by now, we welcome differing opinions. I wrote about mine, this is yours. No worries and totally appreciate you weighing in!

  23. yang

    June 17, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    Po baby……

  24. Christina Carabini

    June 18, 2011 at 6:14 am

    On the one hand the 17-year-old Fanning has been preparing us for this moment for years what with her increasingly mature film roles of late a lesbian make-out with in ? Im looking at you. ..And the more I keep looking at Dakota-as-Lolita the more comfortable I am with this bold new dare I say it? sexually empowered persona of hers. The book about Dakotas acting in the early years has yet to be written but youre on the right track. But is the world ready to say goodbye to the innocent Dakota Fanning it once knew? Dakota has mentioned this very issue–shes concerned that people wont let her grow up.

  25. truthteller

    September 15, 2011 at 10:51 pm

    It just shows you she’s just a trashy little tart like all the rest, anything for money. What ever happened to values? Oh wait, she lost them when she played Joan Jet’s little love interest, ie c@#t. Anything for money. Is this what we call a role model? Can we all say……..hell no!

  26. Living the Balanced Life

    November 9, 2011 at 8:14 am

    I am riding the fence on this in a few areas. As a photographer, it’s just a bad shot. Bad posing, bad lighting, and the placement of the bottle seems to have no other purpose than to be suggestive.
    Her clothes, however, are not that bad, considering what we have seen some young adult starts wear. And yes, she would definitely need to work on that “come hither” look!
    In reality, if the bottle had been placed in a totally different position, most of us would not have had a problem with it. What was Marc Jacobs and his photographer thinking?
    I have a daughter who is 18 and idolized Dakota and had the pleasure of meeting her. Her hometown is next town over from us. I know how difficult it has been for my 18 year old to make the transition from little girl to grown woman, I can only imagine what it would be like in the spotlight…
    Bernice

  27. Sylvia

    November 9, 2011 at 10:23 am

    Bad judgement ! Regardelss, of how innocent they feel this is, it”s NOT! I hate to think that she is destroying her appreciative image! I hope that this blows over fast and she can recover! Stop the maddness and Dakota go for what is RIGHT!

  28. DawnMooreNotLess

    November 9, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    It is indeed in very poor taste. As a mother of a 9 year-old I would hate to think that any mother of a young lady would consider this picture proper advertising, no matter how grate the frills of the contract are. I’m dissapointed.

  29. Wanda Reese

    November 9, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    My fellow posters before me have said it all. All I can add at this point is: Epic fail.

  30. PiecesOfEight

    November 9, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    That bottle looks nothing like any penis Ive ever seen.
    Its a boring ad to me. She looks bored.

  31. Nicki

    November 9, 2011 at 7:14 pm

    I think the ad is silly – but most perfume/cologne ads are absurd…

    I think it’s interesting that you bring up Jodie Foster – someone that made her name by playing a preteen prostitute (at the age of 14!).

  32. Vicki

    November 9, 2011 at 9:00 pm

    Wrong wrong wrong! This ad is so not right

  33. deb

    November 13, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    Really? This makes people mad? Because it’s an actress? Get a little madder and do a Google search for teen sex, then get mad. Please. This is NOTHING compared to what is all over the internet!!! Ugh. Hippocrates. If you want to do something, shut down porn on the internet. THAT is what is abusing teens. This was just as easier target. I could have looked at that pic a 100 times and not seen what everyone is seeing. Maybe my mind doesn’t go there.

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