LOS ANGELES – A new ad for a Dior men’s fragrance called Sauvage sparked outrage Friday for its use of Native American culture and symbols.
The French luxury goods company posted a trailer Friday of a Native American dancer and promised more details about the fragrance on Monday. Another post, on Instagram, noted the campaign was developed along with Native American consultants. But the ad continued to receive heavy criticism for being insensitive and having an offensive name.
Sauvage in French has a variety of meanings, including wild, unspoiled and savage. The fragrance is not new; it has been produced by Dior since the mid-1960s.
Critics also decried the involvement of Johnny Depp, who is the celebrity face of the fragrance and stars in a film promoting Sauvage. Depp’s portrayal of Tonto in the 2013 movie “The Lone Ranger” was also criticized, despite the actor working with consultants from the group Americans for Indian Opportunity, which also consulted on the Dior ad. Depp was adopted as an honorary citizen of the Comanche Nation in a private ceremony by the group’s founder.
“Cultural appropriation for us is a huge thing because we’ve been dealing with this since colonization,” said Ron “Looking Elk” Martinez, one of the consultants on the Dior ad in a video posted about its creation. “Our presence on this project is really to help. So for us to make sure that the look and the identity is authentic is very important.”
As part of the Sauvage campaign, Depp stars in a film called “We Are the Land” that is described in marketing materials as an “ode to Mother Earth” and says the inclusion of the danger is meant to be “a powerful tribute to this culture, portrayed with immense respect.”
A message sent to Dior seeking comment about the reaction to the ad was not immediately returned. A representative for Depp did not respond to a message seeking comment.
Dior had posted trailers and other images from its new Sauvage campaign earlier in the week, but they did not generate similar reactions.