By  on August 31, 2007

Chanel's (Keira) Knightley news: The actress' first Coco Mademoiselle campaign is imminent, and the company plans to blanket the market with images of the brunette Brit.
In what is one of the brand's most sweeping beauty campaigns since signing Nicole Kidman as the face of Chanel No.5 in 2004, Chanel will unleash an ambitious multilayered advertising and promotional campaign this week. The media blitz, which will continue to roll out through yearend, includes TV spots, print ads, outdoor advertising and an intensive online effort. The campaign marks the first time in 15 years that Chanel has bankrolled ads on national network TV.

"Coco Mademoiselle represents the modern facet of Chanel — the strength and irreverence of Gabrielle Chanel," said Maureen Chiquet, global chief executive officer of Chanel. "In Keira, we see that strength both in her and in the roles she has chosen, like 'Bend It Like Beckham.' This campaign tells the story of an independent woman who marks her territory with fragrance and, for that, Keira is perfect."

Both the TV and the print efforts were overseen by Jacques Helleu, Chanel's artistic director, who has helmed the imagemaking efforts at Chanel for more than four decades. Helleu — who has cast such legendary figures as Catherine Deneuve, Candice Bergen and Ali McGraw for Chanel fragrance campaigns — said he was captivated by Knightley's fresh-scrubbed beauty in "Pride and Prejudice," which Joe Wright directed. "She looked so sophisticated with absolutely no makeup on," remembered Helleu. "That was the point in which I fell in love with her professionally."

So, when it came time to cast the commercial, Helleu tapped Knightley to star and Wright to direct.

"Our campaign with Kate [Moss] was coming to an end, and we wanted to try to do something different," said Helleu. "Not because of the [Moss] scandal; it was just time."

The TV commercial, shot by Wright in Paris, is carved from a five-day shoot for the fragrance, completed earlier this year. Knightley, marching through her apartment in an oversize men's shirt, quickly changes into a long red silk dress — designed for Knightley by Karl Lagerfeld — and a handful of Chanel fine jewelry and heads out to the Musée d'Art Moderne, making her way through a crowd of admirers and finally escaping via a staircase to the Place Vendôme. Throughout the piece, singer Joss Stone croons the Nat King Cole song "Love."The Stone interpretation of "Love" added another point of difference, said Helleu. "The song has been in my head, but we wanted to use someone who gave fresh blood to the song. And the tempo matched the film."

In the U.S., 30- and 60-second versions of the commercial will be shown, with a 45-second version being considered for in-store use, said Laurie Palma, Chanel's U.S.-based senior vice president of fragrance and Internet marketing. The spots will begin running Sept. 17 on network TV.

"We haven't done national network TV in the U.S. in 15 years," said Palma, noting that previous American TV campaigns have either been on cable or have been co-op advertising. "This is a really big move for us, but we believe very strongly in this brand."

The print ad, shot by Dominique Isserman, shows Knightley coyly holding a black bowler hat over her breasts, with the aforementioned white men's shirt shielding the rest of her private bits. The majority of the advertising will begin running in October fashion and lifestyle books, including In Style, Vogue, Glamour and Allure.

Chanel is planning to distribute more than 40 million scented pieces by yearend with the campaign, said Palma.

Coco Mademoiselle, a fresh oriental scent concocted by Chanel's in-house perfumer, Jacques Polge, in 2001, was originally created as a flanker to Coco, another Chanel fragrance. Coco Mademoiselle turned out to be a surprise hit for the company, reportedly tripling its modest $7 million sales target in its first year and now ranking fifth in sales in the U.S. for women's fragrances.

While none of the executives would discuss advertising and promotional spending for the campaign, industry sources estimate that Chanel is spending at least $10 million on the campaign. In contrast, Chanel is said to have spent about $12 million in the U.S. and $8 million in Europe in placing the Kidman campaign in its first year.

Chanel is also launching several new Coco Mademoiselle products. A $120 solid perfume will be exclusive to Neiman Marcus, while a $100, 0.25-oz. purse parfum will be sold in the brand's specialty store doors, including Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Bloomingdale's and Bergdorf Goodman.In five key markets — New York, London, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Paris — Chanel will put together in-store interactive window displays in select Chanel boutiques, as well as Chanel quotes projected on sides of buildings and sidewalks. An outdoor campaign with the print ad image will also be displayed on outdoor billboards in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, and the ads will also appear on bus shelters in New York.

A dedicated Web site, mademoiselle-forever.com, goes live on Sept. 1 and features video of reactions to the interactive store windows; behind-the-scenes images from the ad shoot, and a virtual tour of Coco Chanel's apartment "to provide insight into the world of Coco and the spirit of the fragrance," said Chiquet.

Blotter cards will include famous Coco Chanel quotes. As well, Chanel is attempting to create buzz online by providing a diverse group of bloggers behind-the-scenes images and information from the making of the Coco Mademoiselle TV campaign.

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