The Daily Beast
By Amy Zimmerman
December 2, 2016
Johnny Depp is driving through the desert, single-minded and a little bit unhinged. He recklessly slams the brakes, careening his car into the sands. He gets out and pulls a shovel out of his trunk. This may sound like an explosive TMZ video, but it’s actually an ad for Dior’s hypermasculine fragrance, Sauvage (the French word for “wild”). In his most ill-advised performance since Tonto, the alleged abuser has become the ubiquitous face of a product whose tagline boasts “Wild at heart.” TVs, stores, and fashion magazines have been flooded with images of a goateed Depp staring into the distance and rolling up his shirtsleeves, knuckles adorned with heavy metal rings. In any context, this combination of facial hair and single-hoop earring would be suspect. But given the campaign’s proximity to Amber Heard’s claims of domestic abuse, Dior’s Sauvage takes on a whole new level of meaning.
Heard’s divorce filing and abuse allegations essentially coincided with Dior’s heavy promotion of Sauvage. Images of Depp menacingly rolling up his sleeves flooded magazines and TV screens back when Heard’s bruised face was still top trending celebrity news. Naturally, customers didn’t take too kindly to this series of unfortunate optics. Down under, the Australian Advertising Standards Bureau reported that they received multiple complaints about the Sauvage posters that had been plastered around Sydney and Melbourne. U.K.-based domestic-violence charity Women’s Aid called on Dior to stop working with the celebrity. A spokesperson from Safe Horizon also noted that, “Because of the allegations that are out there against him, [the ad] may be a trigger to domestic-violence survivors, ” sending the potent message that employers and society at large condone their abusers’ actions.
Having picked the most inappropriate face for their wild and reckless fragrance, Dior seems unwilling to change the course of their campaign. It’s yet another example of how serious allegations of abuse and assault are treated as minor career hurdles for white male celebrities. Considering the fact that a freshly accused Depp wasn’t sacked from this highly insensitive Sauvage campaign, it stands to reason that Heard’s allegations won’t affect the actor’s continued employment. If nothing else, it would be nice if Heard’s PSA was as ubiquitous as her ex-husband’s fragrance campaign—a reminder that even if Depp has been forgiven by his employers, Amber Heard’s story hasn’t been forgotten.