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Justin Timberlake is in Play — that is, the Givenchy fragrance brand of that name, set to be rolled out in the U.S. this fall, following its debut in Europe a year ago. Timberlake is pulling double-duty as the face of this launch: two men’s scents — dubbed Play and Play Intense, respectively — are offered.
“We were looking for a man who’s recognized all over the world, someone new to the world of perfumery, and with great seductive potential,” said Pamela Baxter, president and chief executive officer of LVMH Perfumes & Cosmetics N.A. and president and ceo of Christian Dior Inc. “Most importantly, we needed to find a man who could embody the modern elegance specific to the Givenchy brand as well as all the facets of Play.”
This story first appeared in the July 10, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Play and Play Intense were created by Symrise perfumers Lucas Sieuzac and Emilie Coppermann with Françoise Donche, creative director for fragrance at Parfums Givenchy. Both share a unique note — Caribbean amyris wood, a soft woody note said to be similar to sandalwood and cedar — said Alain Lorenzo, president of Parfums Givenchy. “We then told the perfumers to take the Caribbean amyris wood note and make one scent, which is more polarizing and one which is more accessible,” he said, adding the scents also share bergamot, coffee flower, vetiver and patchouli notes. The scents began rolling out in Europe last August. “Because the U.S. is one of our largest markets, we wanted to work out any kinks in Play before bringing it to the U.S.,” said Lorenzo.
Play has top notes of bergamot, mandarin orange, bitter orange and grapefruit; a heart of Caribbean amyris wood, black pepper and coffee flower, and a drydown of vetiver and patchouli. Play Intense has top notes of bergamot and mandarin, a heart of Caribbean amyris wood, pink pepper and coffee flower, and a drydown of labdanum, tonka bean, vetiver and patchouli.
Both scents are available in two sizes, 50 ml. and 100 ml. Play will retail for $53 for the 50 ml. and $71 for the 100 ml.; Play Intense’s 50 ml. is $57, and its 100 ml. is $76.
In the initial rollout, Play accounted for about 60 percent of sales, with Play Intense garnering the remaining 40 percent. According to industry sources, the fragrances sold 20 percent above plan in the U.K.
The scents will be available in about 1,800 department stores in the U.S., including Macy’s, Nordstrom, Dillard’s and Sephora, said Baxter.
While none of the executives would discuss sales projections, industry sources estimated Play would do about $15 million at retail in the U.S. in its first year on counter.
Play has white outer packaging, while Play Intense’s is black. The bottles — designed by Serge Mansau, who also designed the Organza, Pi and Ange ou Démon bottles for the brand — are similarly colored.
Advertising, shot by Tom Munro and featuring Timberlake, will break in September fashion, beauty and lifestyle magazines. An extensive Internet campaign is also planned.
But fragrance is far from Timberlake’s only project these days — his to-do list includes his ready-to-wear line, William Rast, as well as music-producing and acting projects.
Timberlake’s trick for juggling his myriad of projects? “Well, you appoint and employ people who understand the vision of each brand — and you treat each brand separately, like the rest of them don’t exist,” said Timberlake. “It’s the same as in entertainment. Doing a film is a completely different process than, for instance, putting a song together. They have their similarities, but at the root of it they’re polar opposites. So, I think you just treat everything accordingly and specifically.”
He’s also looking to help launch the careers of up-and-coming artists with Tennman Records, his venture with Interscope Records. “I have Esmée, we just put her single out in Europe,” he said. “I have a band from Memphis called Free Sol — like a rap-rock band, it’s really cool. And I also have an indie songwriter with an amazing voice, Matt Morris, and a girl named Bren from Staten Island. As far as music is concerned, my efforts are to focus in on that and get them off the ground.”
Unlike most of the rest of Hollywood, Timberlake said he hasn’t considered putting his own moniker on a fragrance bottle. “I could see doing a William Rast fragrance, but that’s as far as I think I’ll take it,” he said, joking that “there’s some level of narcissism you have to put in check” to do one.
“I don’t know that I would be completely comfortable with a my-name fragrance,” he added. “It feels like cheating, almost. It doesn’t seem like you’re creating anything.”