Dior launches new ad for Sauvage with Johnny Depp and Native Americans - get called out for appropriation.

Most of social media is now going nuts over a new ad from Dior, featuring Johhny Depp and a couple of Native Americans, one of whom is doing a traditional dance on a mountaintop in the sunset. While that actually looks really cool, the response to Dior's original tweet (archive) was so strong that they have already deleted it. While Dior has sold "Sauvage" cologne with Depp in the desert before, the Native American element is new and coupled with the French word, people now saw the name as a slur.

Prior ad showed Depp leaving the city and driving out to the desert, where he ceremoniously buries all his jewellery and sheds the city look. The symbolism is that Depp is what the name implies: wild and free. 

Top reply calls it "racist"

Dior explained on Instagram, the ad features a Native American dancerand member of the Rosebud Sioux tribe who goes by Canku One Star, and he is performing the “Fancy War Dance that embodies all the modernity of the Native American culture.” The film, directed by filmmaker Jean-Baptiste Mondino, was made as a “close collaboration” between Dior and Native American consultants from the organization Americans for Indian Opportunity “in order to respect Indigenous cultures, values and heritage.”


This is the full ad. Like the previous commercials for Sauvage, Depp is rebelling alone in the American west, except here he riffs on his guitar instead of burying his jewellery, while gazing at the horizon in closeups or squinting at the burning sun. It may look cool, but I'll always wonder if it smells like sweat.

Dior explains in their release that they were actively trying to avoid this current reaction:

“As soon as we began to evoke Native American imagery and symbols in this new film, the House of Dior, Jean-Baptiste Mondino and Johnny Depp immediately decided to contact Native American consultants who are enrolled citizens of the Comanche, Isleta and Taos Pueblos and the Pawnee Nation.” 


Their aim was to : 

“...moving away from clichés in order to avoid the cultural appropriation and subversion that so often taints images representing Native peoples. And so, from the script to the choice of locations via costume making and right down to casting, which they organized themselves, the AIO validated all the elements and symbols linked to Native American cultures.”

They failed, however, because no matter how many actual Native Americans were consulted and hired here, the viewer doesn't know this just by looking at the ad, so Twitter did what twitter does best and had a fit.

What most complainers seem to have in common is that they had no idea the Dior cologne "Sauvage" has existed for many years with Depp as the frontman already. They are interpreting the name as a direct slur directed at Canku One Star, and the elusive young beauty who spies on Depp from behind tall grass. 

Due to the reactions, Dior has removed the campaign from all social media, and are cancelling the September media buy.

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Dabitch's picture

It continues. #BoycottDior is now trending.

Dir has not deleted some of the image parts of the campaign, which shows only Depp, Note that the company says "even wilder than before", as the name (in French) implies and this new Sauvage cologne is a more bold scent.

Dabitch's picture

I should probably have mentioned that the fragrance Sauvage, with the name originating from the fragrance Eau Sauvage from 1966, was launched in 2015.

Dabitch's picture