DKNY 1, Express 0

I was flipping through Marie-Claire's Marie Claire magazine yesterday — I know, right? — and I came across an ad I liked so much that I just kind of sat and stared at it for a minute.

"That's what I want," I actually said out loud as I held up the page for my friends.

The ad reminded me, however, of another perfume ad I saw recently — one I hated so much that I actually snapped a cell phone photo to remind myself to blog about it later.

The kicker for me is that the Express perfume is called "Love." Not "Trashy Romance Novel" or "Visit from the Chippendales" or "Debauchery in a Bottle." No. Love.

And since four years of studying communications has made it nearly impossible for me to look at an advertisement without analyzing it, I began to wonder what each ad's planners were thinking as they came up with these ideas.

Both ads connect their product with the idea of love, but they present it in two very different fashions.

The first ad connotes comfort, intimacy, fidelity, even vulnerability. The second connotes vanity, infidelity, selfishness, and power.

Making an appeal to humans' innate need for love is a classic advertising move, but if advertisers expect it to continue to work in the future, they need to get their definition of love right.

My applause goes to DKNY. Express, not so much.