There is now a plethora of limited edition Christmas calendars, including those from La Mer, Guerlain and L’Occitane. Dior ($ 550), Armani ($ 310), and Saint Laurent ($ 300) also have beauty advent calendars. None of them are cheap, and most contain a mix of beauty samples – the mini-versions of products often offered free with a purchase – and full-size or limited-edition offers.
And the beauty versions are just the latest iteration of how Advent calendars, invented in the mid-19th century in Germany to teach children about Sunday school and spirituality, have been marketed over the years. Even the Nazis created theirs as a form of propaganda.
(Probably the most expensive Advent calendar on the market is the new $ 150,000 Tiffany version, a four foot tall cabinet with a reproduction of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s painting from the recent “Equals Pi” ad campaign. by Tiffany on the front and 24 gifts inside.)
So why did the Chanel version piss people off so much? After all, luxury brands have never shied away from the fact that, in large part, what their customers are buying is brand equity itself. A dust bag with “Chanel” on it is worth more than a dust bag with nothing on it.
Plus, Chanel showcases all of the calendar content on their website, so it’s no secret what everyone gets for their money. It is not obvious that their offer is more fragile than that of other brands.
But because it was new, and because it was so expensive, and because it was Chanel, with all the mythology built into the name, maybe the stakes and expectations were higher. And the feeling of betrayal when those expectations weren’t met, greater – and, it seems, the desire to respond publicly, overwhelming.
Those who profit from perception may also lose. What Ms. Harmon opened was not just a new mini perfume. It was a new reality, now completely out of the box.