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LONDON — Bulgari is throwing the raw Australian masculinity of Eric Bana behind the launch of a new fragrance for men, Bulgari Man Extreme.
“It was literally the first thing after many years that came up and I went, ‘Actually, yes, I will do that,’” said Bana in an interview with WWD at the Bulgari Hotel in London, as he explained that he had been approached countless times over the years to become the “face of” different brands. He joked, “Prior to this I was just the face of myself!”
The fragrance, which will launch later this month, was created by Firmenich’s Alberto Morillas. It opens with zesty top notes of pink grapefruit, Calabrian bergamot and cactus pulp, and deepens with a masculine floral blend of white freesia, Guatemalan cardamom and vegetal amber, with balsa wood, Haitian vetiver and Laotian benzoin. “I created the new perfume for Bulgari with the idea of evoking a new freshness without neglecting a modern sensuality in the background,” said Morillas. He said the fragrance was supposed to evoke the “sensation of fresh, fragrant air rushing in when you open a window onto the Mediterranean countryside. It is more a feeling than a smell, a way of inspiring a dream, of taking you away to another place.” He explained that the base notes “are still very Bulgari in their signature,” with a combination of musks and sophisticated wood notes like white woods and balsa. He used Haitian vetiver for “a noble facet” and freesia for its “freshness and unconventional appeal.”
Valeria Manini, worldwide managing director for Bulgari Parfums, noted that the new scent is inspired by Roman emperors and “a modern hero of great stature.”
“The portrayal of this hero required strength, stature, power, self-confidence,” said Manini. “[The campaign] required an actor instead of a model, a man with personality that could interpret the Bulgari Man Extreme character. Eric Bana is best known for his lead role of the Greek hero Hector in the movie ‘Troy.’ A man without fear, who compromises on nothing, experiences emotions that are strong, out of the ordinary and extreme. [Bana] has this self-confidence, determination and power that makes him very seductive, charismatic and heroic.”
Manini added that the new scent “successfully embodies the values of the brand: contemporary, timelessness, elegance. We aim to enrich the Bulgari Man franchise with a powerful major novelty with strong character and visibility to further penetrate the masculine core target worldwide.”
Bana was photographed by Peter Lindbergh for the print campaign, which breaks in April magazines, and directed by Matteo Garrone for the television ads (which will only run outside the U.S.), experiences that the actor relished. “I’m a photography nut, so to get the chance to work with [Lindbergh] and see how he worked was great, and he was really lovely, actually,” said Bana. “He was really open; I was going off on one about shooting and photography and asking a bunch of questions — he was awesome.”
As for working with Garrone, he was equally thrilled. “I was beside myself that Matteo was directing [the commercial], because I had seen his film ‘Gomorrah,’ which was just incredible, so I truly went off on one about that — he was probably sick of me in the end! But it was a lot of fun.”
Bulgari Man Extreme joins the Bulgari Man, Pour Homme and Aqua Pour Homme franchises in the brand’s men’s fragrance portfolio and will be available in 100-ml. and 60-ml. eau de toilette sizes, as well as an aftershave balm. Prices start from $44 for the 100-ml. balm and $59 for the 60-ml. eau de toilette fragrance. In the U.S., industry sources estimated the scent will be available in about 3,000 department and specialty stores. Industry sources also estimated that the scent could do $10 million to $15 million at retail in the U.S. in its first year on counter.