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The Many Faces of Perfume

Fame sells. This lesson has always been well appreciated in the perfume industry. However, today the role of celebrities in marketing perfumes seems to be changing

The name and image of celebrities are abound in the fragrance industry. Whenever browsing through the latest perfumes, you can be sure to spot at least a few bottles carrying the name of one or another celebrity.

In the world of niche perfumes, fragrances branded with the names of celebrities feature less often. For many perfumistas, celebrity name on a perfume bottle raises the question whether the perfume house places brand appeal above true quality. This view seems to have spread as well to the wider audience of fragrance consumers, since celebrity perfume sales have dwindled significantly during the last year.

Celebrity Ambassadors

Celebrity advertising is not going to disappear anywhere in the near future, though. Thus, enter celebrity ambassadors. Instead of just attaching a name of a chosen celebrity to the bottle, perfume houses are looking to create a deeper association between a chosen celebrity and their product.

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Gerard Butler for Boss Bottled

For example, Gerard Butler has recently featured as the new face of Boss Bottled by Hugo Boss. With celebrity ambassadors, it is always important that the product is well suited for the chosen celebrity. Therefore Mr Butler with Boss Bottled make for a great pairing. The fragrance, combining fruity top notes with a spicy heart and masculine base truly captures both the sophistication and deeply rooted natural of charisma of Gerard Butler. According to him, he was already well acquainted with the product. “I already loved the fragrance. I enjoy the smell and I can wear it to anything. I wear it to red carpet events or just while going out. Maybe even after paddle boarding,” he says.

A well-chosen celebrity can convey a complex message to the audience in a single image. Think about Charlize Theron, for example, who has successfully featured as the face of Dior’s J’adore for ten years. Who else could possibly portray better the Hollywood limelight glamor of J’adore? Dior has proven their taste for matching celebrities with perfumes with other fragrances as well. Recently they featured Natalie Portman for the new ethereal fragrance Miss Dior Blooming Bouquet, while Robert Pattinson lends his looks for the classic mature yet playful masculine fragrance Dior Homme.

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Charlize Theron for Dior’s J’adore

At its best, a brand ambassador thus transforms the product into a whole way of life. Gerard Butler also saw this potential when he agreed to become the new face of Boss Bottled. “When they came to me with the idea, I was already enticed,” he says. “But then I saw the outline for the campaign itself and it felt very inspiring as well as thought-provoking. Something that goes beyond what it is to sell a product. It makes you think. It inspires you to do good, to be a gentleman. You really consider and meditate on what that takes. And I love that idea because I follow it in my own life.”

Matching the Celebrity with the Perfume

Sometimes using a celebrity as a brand ambassador does not work out so well. When the personality of the person does not match with the image of the product, no good can come from the association. For example, when Brad Pitt was chosen to feature as the first male face for the iconic feminine perfume Chanel No. 5, there were doubts about Chanel’s decision right from the start. Why, after all, choose a male face to advertise the most famous female perfume of all time? Then, after a disastrous advertising campaign, it became clear to everyone that Chanel’s plans had failed to achieve the object.

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Brad Pitt for Chanel No. 5

This is why it is crucial for the personality of the celebrity to closely match the image of a chosen product. Without a natural connection, consumers might only be left confused and cynical about the marketing scheme behind the perfume. Julia Roberts, who was chosen as the face for the new Lancôme iris perfume La Vie est Belle, also reflects this attitude toward celebrity branded perfumes. Speaking about the simple and plain design of the perfume bottle, the actress says: “In this day and age when everything’s about the brand and everything’s got the name of the company and the person and the place stamped all over it, what I think is amazing is that there’s nothing written on the bottle.”

As with Gerard Butler and Boss Bottled, the connection between Julia Roberts and La Vie est Belle is apparent. Renowned for her natural beauty and sweet character, she matches closely with the perfume’s opening of intensive black currant and pear, bright floral heart notes, and sweet gourmand base of tonka bean, patchouli, praline, and vanilla. The actress together with the perfume create an image of enjoying the simpler things of life, just as the name of the perfume implies.

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Sometimes it is better to choose a pair of celebrities instead of relying on a single face. Take for example the recent Dolce & Gabbana advertising campaign for their iconic fragrance, ‘The One’ for both him and her. The ad features Scarlett Johansson and Matthew McConaughey, both of whom are listed amongst the most successful Hollywood stars.

Here the individual allure of Ms Johansson and Mr McConaughey, as well as the natural chemistry between the two, contributes to the image of the perfumes. In just a few short minutes, the stars create a story of deep feelings between two characterful persons. This story perfectly captures the delicate interplay between the feminine floral and fruity version of The One for her, and the masculine spicy and woody version of The One for him.

The long-standing tradition of celebrities marketing perfumes might well be changing, but any major changes in the perfume industry remains to be seen. When properly matched, celebrity ambassadors might facilitate sales, but even more importantly, they might transform perfume products into much more than mere fragrances. When the character of a celebrity truly combines with a quality fragrance, the perfume transforms from being a product into an experience. So far there have been both good and bad examples of celebrity and perfume pairings. How well future ambassadors might affect the perfumes that they endorse will have to be judged case by case.