Movie star Johnny Depp defended his role in an ad campaign for Parfums Christian Dior’s “Sauvage” perfume after it was accused of cultural appropriation.
Images and sneak preview videos released ahead of the main campaign showed footage of Native Americans performing a war dance in traditional dress and also featured Depp.
But after a social media backlash, Depp has defended his role. Speaking at the Deauville Film Festival in France this week he stated: “A teaser obviously is a very concentrated version of images and there were objections to the teaser of the small film. The (full) film has never been seen. There was never — and how could there be or how would there be — any dishonorable (intent).”
“It was a film made out of great respect and with great respect and love for the Native American peoples to bring light to them. They haven’t had the greatest amount of help out of the United States government. The idea is as pure as it ever was.”
Depp said the creative team was working with those offended on a resolution.
The LVMH-owned brand started posting short “teaser” videos and photos on social media in August but was accused by some of racism and posts showing Native Americans performing a war dance appear to have been removed.
Images of Depp sitting by a fire in a desert remain on Dior Parfum’s Instagram account, stating: “Even wilder than before, Johnny Depp is at one with nature, reconnecting with a land where boundaries are made to be pushed.”
Asked for comment by CNBC after the initial backlash, Dior sent a press release from a nonprofit called the Americans for Indian Opportunity (AIO), which refers to itself as a group that advocates for the rights of indigenous peoples.
The group said it collaborated with Dior, as well as music video director Jean-Baptiste Mondino and Depp to provide advice on “authentic inclusion of Native American images in the film promoting Depp’s signature parfum.” The release also said the group had made Depp an honorary citizen of the Comanche Nation in 2012.
“There was need for authenticity and respect for the land and the nations that allowed us to shoot there. From the choice of location, wardrobe making, right down to casting and set design, AIO was involved,” Depp said in the release.
Johnny Depp in Sauvage video ad