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Brad Pitt Helps Chanel Shake Up Iconic Perfume

Oct 14, 2012
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CELESTE HEADLEE, HOST:

And if you're just tuning in, this is WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Celeste Headlee.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHANEL NO. 5 COMMERCIAL)

HEADLEE: When you think of women's perfume, what comes to mind?

(SOUNDBITE OF CHANEL NO. 5 COMMERCIAL)

HEADLEE: Chanel No. 5 has been around for 92 years. And the recipe for its iconic commercials has been the same for more than three decades. Take a famous actress, add an accomplished director and mix until you have a mini film. Take, for example, this 2004 ad featuring Nicole Kidman. It was directed by Baz Luhrmann, whose films include "Moulin Rouge."

(SOUNDBITE OF CHANEL NO. 5 COMMERCIAL)

HEADLEE: Today, Chanel is releasing a new commercial created with that same formula: big-time director and big-time star. But there's a twist. That star...

(SOUNDBITE OF CHANEL NO. 5 COMMERCIAL)

HEADLEE: ...is a man.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHANEL NO. 5 COMMERCIAL)

HEADLEE: Samples from an inquisitive Brad Pitt promoting the perfume. Rupal Parekh is an editor at Ad Age. She says since the recession hit, the fragrance market has gotten even more competitive. So Chanel is smart to shake things up.

RUPAL PAREKH: It is a perfume that our grandmothers wore, our mothers wore. There's, you know, there's no doubt that people know what it is. However, today, a lot of the perfumes that have performed really well, they're actually celebrity perfumes. So for Chanel to advertise and to make sure that it is top of mind today, you know, a reminder can't hurt.

HEADLEE: The perfume has been endorsed by famous actresses since the 1950s: Marilyn Monroe, Catherine Deneuve, Audrey Tautou, they've all promoted Chanel No 5. So why change what doesn't seem to be broken? Parekh says choosing a male face reminds women why they wear the perfume in the first place.

PAREKH: In addition to wearing it for yourself, well, who do you wear it for? You often do wear it for a man. And so the notion of having Brad Pitt endorsing Chanel No. 5, he's basically saying that he thinks it smells good. So if the idea is that men think Chanel No. 5 smells good, well, hey, wouldn't a woman want to wear it?

(SOUNDBITE OF CHANEL NO. 5 COMMERCIAL)

HEADLEE: Chanel will release the commercial at midnight Paris time. It'll be featured on their website and on YouTube.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LOVER MAN (OH, WHERE CAN YOU BE?)") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.