I’m going out on a limb here, predicting that the conventional Champagne business model is doomed — or, at least, headed downscale at a stately pace. In what will doubtless prove a vain attempt to save branded, indistinct wines disconnected from any particular terroir, sold at ultra-premium prices, Moet & Chandon has released a new advertising campaign featuring Scarlett Johansson.
This is perfect: a fading wine contracts a beautiful actress at the exact moment in her career when she, too, is about to fade.
That fade is not Johansson’s fault. Hollywood loses interest in women once they hit their late thirties almost no matter how talented they are. Norma Desmond was left behind not just by talkies but also by the showbiz lust for fresh meat. It’s how the business works: men go on forever but women only get a few good years . Consider Clint Eastwood, who kept being a leading man right up to the moment his face, basically, crumbled. At 63 he made In the Line of Fire opposite 39 year-old love interest Renee Russo. Russo, only a few years later, was apparently so unsightly that her sole credit for two entire years was as Natasha in the horrendous animated Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, while Eastwood played a romantic lead in Bridges of Madison County and an action hero in Space Cowboys.
Scarlett Johansson still has some hot to her, and Moet still has some cachet. The big Champagne houses have been selling glamor more than wine for a couple of hundred years, and what they’re tying themselves to is an actress whose fade is as pre-ordained as their own. They could have gone with someone younger, edgier, more distinct — the red carpet analog of the more vibrant grower Champagne model that is gaining traction with wine’s cutting edge.
They could have, but they didn’t.