CIPC #266: Agent Provocateur ad

Intuitively, one would perhaps expect chess themes to mainly occur in advertisement for brainy things, like insurance, or computers, or stocks or something. But it seems like chess is more often used to signal class, rather than intelligence. This is why it appears in ads for liquor, clothing, and perfume. Half a year ago, I already spotlighted an ad for perfume on this blog. Today is number two.

This particular ad was released some ten years ago and is ostensibly for a perfume called L’Agent by a company called Agent Provocateur.1 It shows a picture of a woman, presumably the agent in question, seated at a chess board on a pebble beach somewhere. To the right of this picture, and apparently unrelated to it, a bottle of perfume is shown with its name repeated for unclear reasons. The ad does not claim this perfume is good. It does not claim you should buy it, nor even where you could do so. All it does is hint at its existence. Is this thing the reward for completing some quest in a video game?

Whatever the case, the view of the chessboard is perfectly clear. The position is the following:2

I cannot say I’m very good at chess, but something tells me white has the advantage here. Black has the more active king, but that’s probably not enough compensation for his slight material deficit. More remarkably, nothing in the position seems implausible.

Which leaves just one burning question:3 what’s so provocative here? The only explanation is that black is playing on far too long. Which means that the provoking agent is actually not the woman shown, but rather the invisible black player. So, apparently, the message is that this perfume can make you annoy women. As if I need perfume for that.

Realism: 4/5 It seems clear that white is just toying with her opponent, but this kind of thing can happen, especially in a free game between two not-so-great players.

Probable winner: White seems to be the favourite in view of the unavoidable mate with Qe4.

1. [I think. It might be a perfume called Agent Provocateur by a company called L’Agent. Yeah, perfumes are not my forte.]
2. [Your chess diagram agent.]
3. [This explains the smoke in the background.]