Did you ever play Mad-Libs as a child? When I read fragrance PR copy, I get the feeling that some of us are still playing it. Here’s the description of Pétroleum on Histoires de Parfums’ website:
A symbol of wealth and prosperity, Pétroleum is an unexpected essence. Once referred to as ‘Black Gold’, it is rich, dark, and mysterious… a miraculous gift from the depths of our Earth. In all of its precious form Oud is effortlessly felt throughout the fragrance. Woven with Bergamot and Orange its fresh top notes unfold, assertively layered with woody and resinous power. Ozonic floralcy lives at the heart as a mystical rose unveils warmed ambered stones. An eccentric chypre character exhales narcotic fumes with an intense signature of leather wrapped in lucid white musk… It is a potion, a rare elixir that will lead to exalted ecstasy and pure euphoria.
Whoever wrote that ought to get a Prix Eau Faux Lifetime Achievement Award—but wouldn’t it be more fun (and efficient for future PR writers) to convert it into a Mad-Lib formula?
A symbol of (ATTRIBUTE), Pétroleum is an (ADJECTIVE) (NOUN). Once referred to as (EPITHET), it is (ADJECTIVE), (ADJECTIVE), (ADJECTIVE)… a (ADJECTIVE) (NOUN) from (LOCATION). In all of its (ADJECTIVE) form (SCENT ELEMENT) is (ADVERB) felt throughout the fragrance. Woven with (SCENT ELEMENT) and (SCENT ELEMENT) its (ADJECTIVE) top notes (VERBS), (ADVERB) layered with (ADJECTIVE) (ATTRIBUTE). (ADJECTIVE) (MADE-UP FRAGRANCE TERM) lives (LOCATION) as a (FANTASY NOUN) (VERBS) (MORE FANTASY NOUNS). An (ADJECTIVE) (PERFUME CHARACTERISTIC) (VERB) (ADJECTIVE) (NOUN) with an (FLORID DESCRIPTION OF SCENT ELEMENT)… It is a (NOUN), a (NOUN) that will lead to (OUTCOME).
Sadly, the perfume itself is not nearly as diverting as the word games it inspires, as this rewrite will surely demonstrate:
A symbol of how even brilliant perfumers can run out of ideas, Pétroleum is a shameless mashup of older, better fragrances. Once referred to as Shalimar/Bulgari Black/LUSH Breath of God, it is smoky, sweet, synthetic… a clumsy conglomerate from what should have been Gérald Ghislain’s reject file. In all of its most unsettling form burning rubber is harshly felt throughout the fragrance. Woven with Orange Soda and Talcum Powder its acrid top notes stick in one’s throat, incongruously layered with old-ladyish aldehydes. Venal vinyliciousness lives in Pétroleum’s hotpants as a thousand silken petals litter the freshly-painted runway at the AVN Awards. A flimsy floriental takes another weary huff from an acetone-soaked paper bag still replete with a haunting trace of the greasy carnival funnel cake it once held.… It is a disappointment, a misstep that will lead to very few people wishing to own a whole bottle of this stuff, let alone a small sample.
Scent Elements: Oud, bergamot, aldehyde, rose, amber, leather, patchouli, civet, white musk