In episode three of Netflix’s Emily in Paris, the team at Parisian marketing firm Savoir gather round to watch a perfume ad they’ve produced for luxury brand Maison Lavaux. The ad shows a completely naked woman crossing a bridge, surrounded by the gaze of slightly ominous, suited men – apparently a reference to French surrealism. Chicago marketing exec Emily expresses her concern that the ad won’t translate to an American audience, as they might find it sexist. Both the Savoir team and Maison Lavaux’s owner, Antoine, retaliate, “No, it’s definitely sexy!”
Emily responds, “Why don’t we put the commercial on Twitter with a poll: ‘Sexy or sexist?’ Get a conversation going. Let the world decide, and make it part of your campaign.”
Antoine mulls this over for about five seconds, before saying, “Sexy or sexist… It’s a little controversial. I like it.” They then head off to celebrate the completion of their viral campaign strategy.
Amongst other things, Emily in Paris is a show about marketing, agencies, influencers, and PR. Particularly in the first season, these topics are baked into its inner fibres. The first episode’s opening line uses an industry ‘Movers and Shakers’ article for exposition. The titular role of Emily is portrayed by Lily Collins, whose father’s song soundtracked one of the best ads of the 2000s. And the majority of narrative conflict is driven by this supposed tension between agencies and influencers.
But as the scene above shows, the representation of this industry always feels a little off, somewhat skewed, almost like it would appear in a dream. And whilst the things that happen in our dreams rarely reflect reality in an accurate way, our interpretations of them can help us understand our reality on a deeper level. So, this is what we hope to do with Emily in Paris – analyse and interpret its dream of influencer marketing, with the help of some discerning industry experts.
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