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The Untold Truth Behind Johnny Depp's Controversial Dior Commercial

When looking for a celebrity to represent a product, it's vitally important for companies that they pair with the right person for the job. Luxury French brand Dior likely thought they were in safe hands with a big Hollywood star like Johnny Depp, but things have changed an awful lot for the actor since he became the face of the company's Sauvage cologne. The truth is, what an actor does off the screen is just as important as what they do on it nowadays. While nobody is questioning Depp's on-camera work (he is, after all, a brilliant actor who brings each of his characters to life with bravado and unparalleled uniqueness), his turbulent personal life has started to overshadow it.

From Dior's resolute reaction to Depp's recent legal struggles to the awkward real-life parallels that marred the ad campaign, this is the untold truth of Johnny Depp's controversial Dior commercial.

The following article includes mentions of domestic abuse allegations.

Dior is standing by Depp

It's no secret that Johnny Depp has been at the center of a huge legal battle in recent years. In 2020, the actor lost a libel case against the British tabloid The Sun, which claimed that Depp physically harmed his then-wife, Amber Heard. The publication called him a "wife beater" in the article. The judge in charge of the case claimed that Depp had "not succeeded in his action for libel," per Variety. "Although he has proved the necessary elements of his cause of action in libel, the defendants have shown that what they published in the meaning which I have held the words to bear was substantially true."

Despite the fact that he lost the libel case, Dior continued to stand by Depp. The move angered many, but commentators weren't that surprised. "Brands hope for short-term memory loss and long-term amnesia," British public relations veteran Mark Bokowski told The Guardian. "These fashion companies live in their own bubble, it's like 'The Devil Wears Prada.' They live in a world where they are used to facing controversy." The newspaper noted that interest in "Sauvage" had seemingly increased following the court ruling and that those who were supporting Depp were pledging to buy it.

Hollywood dropped Johnny Depp

Dior decided to stand by Johnny Depp, but Hollywood didn't. Despite initially receiving the support of "Harry Potter" author J.K. Rowling, the actor was fired from the role of Gellert Grindelwald in the "Fantastic Beasts" films following the failure of his libel case. Before Warner Bros. made the news official, Depp released a statement on Instagram, telling his followers that he was "asked to resign" from the role. Grindelwald wasn't the only major part that Depp lost, however: It appears as though his time as the wildly successful "Pirates of the Caribbean" character Captain Jack Sparrow is also over.

The Daily Mail first reported that Disney was retiring Depp's Jack Sparrow back in 2018. The actor was asked about the article when he was cross-examined by Amber Heard's attorney during their $50 million defamation trial. "I wasn't aware of that, but it doesn't surprise me," Depp said (via Variety). "Two years had gone by of constant worldwide talk about me being this wife beater. So I'm sure that Disney was trying to cut ties to be safe." Depp went on to say that he wouldn't reprise the role of Sparrow even if Disney offered him the chance.

The English translation of the fragrance's name is pretty awkward

If Dior could have foreseen the events of Johnny Depp's future when they hired him as the face of Sauvage, would the company have reconsidered its options? Perhaps not, because the French giant appears to be reaping the rewards of digging in its heels over Depp. "Dior have been smart," author and broadcaster Katie Edwards wrote in the Independent. "At a time when many celebrities scream 'cancel culture!' any time they're criticized or called to account for their comments or behavior, the team at Dior seem to recognize that controversy can drive sales."

Still, despite the company's firm stance when it comes to keeping Depp as the face of Sauvage, they can't escape the fact that the name is pretty awkward. Sauvage can mean "savage," "wild," and "fierce," according to Collins, none of which are a good look under the circumstances. Of course, Depp became the ambassador for the fragrance back in 2015, before the accusations of domestic violence and the subsequent legal proceedings.

One of Depp's Sauvage ads was pulled for being offensive

In 2019, a Sauvage commercial entitled "We Are the Land" received criticism for its message and portrayal of Native Americans. In it, Johnny Depp plays guitar as a member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe performs a warrior dance in full traditional garb. People were quick to point out that using Native American imagery in support of a fragrance called Sauvage was tone deaf and offensive. In this instance, Dior was quick to back down, pulling the ad from social media only a few hours after posting it.

As noted by The Hollywood Reporter, Depp says he has Native American heritage. He was actually adopted by the Comanche tribe ahead of playing Tonto in "The Lone Ranger," but these elements still don't take away from the fact that people were offended. Dior released a statement addressing the controversy shortly after pulling the ad. "The House of Dior has long been committed to promoting diversity and has no tolerance for discrimination in any form," it read. "Recently, a film trailer for the Sauvage fragrance was posted on social media and immediately withdrawn. We are deeply sorry for any offense caused by this new advertising campaign, which was meant to be a celebration of the beauty, dignity, and grace of the contemporary Native American culture."

Sauvage is still a best-seller

Despite all the backlash and Johnny Depp's ongoing legal battles, Sauvage has continued to sell. In fact, it's as relevant now as it ever has been. According to the beauty website Cosmetify, the number of people searching for Sauvage online skyrocketed by 23% after Depp's case against The Sun was dismissed. This came via The Guardian, which noted that Sauvage was still the number one best-selling cologne at The Fragrance Shop at the time. Has that changed in the few years since?

Sauvage managed to survive and thrive following Depp's failed lawsuit against The Sun, and his big defamation trial hasn't slowed the fragrance down one little bit. In 2022, Marie Claire revealed that Sauvage had become the best-selling perfume in the world. "A bottle of Dior's Sauvage was sold every three seconds in 2021, making it the bestselling perfume in both the male and female categories," the fashion mag confirmed. "This is the first time a men's fragrance has taken the worldwide first place spot. However, since its initial launch in 2015, it has seen continued success globally."

Depp's fans continue to support him

The events of recent years will be a smudge on his career regardless of how the courts see them, but there's no denying that Johnny Depp has left his mark on the movie industry. Through his portrayals of classic characters like Jack Sparrow, Edward Scissorhands, Willy Wonka, and more, he has amassed a legion of loyal fans. According to The Guardian, Depp's fans have had his back since he tried to sue The Sun over its "wife beater" claims. They showed up with their signs at the court, and they created the #JusticeForJohnnyDepp hashtag to discuss everything from the failed libel case to the accusations of domestic violence he made against Amber Heard.

It appears as though people wanting to show support for the actor have taken to buying a bottle of Sauvage as a way of doing so. "Johnny Depp is still the face of Sauvage, because Dior aren't idiots," one supporter said, while another wrote: "Shout out to Dior for practically being the one sponsor left for Johnny Depp that hasn't turned their back on him. He's still the face of their cologne Sauvage, definitely gonna get me a bottle to show my support." Dior banked on Depp's fans being faithful when push came to shove, and the gamble has been paying off big time.

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.