PARIS — Paris Saint-Germain, look out. Brazilian soccer superstar Neymar Jr. has just teamed with Diesel, to cocreate a men’s scent.
“Neymar is an inspiration in the world of soccer. He is a genius, an artist, a magician. He has a very strong personality, a very strong style that inspires a lot of young people all over the world,” Guillaume de Lesquen, global president, designer brands fragrances at L’Oréal Luxe, told WWD.
That’s not least in the digital realm, where the sportsman commands a major presence. He has 114 million Instagram followers, 43 million Twitter fans and 59.8 million Facebook groupies.
The scent collaboration “really puts Diesel in the heart of social media networks,” de Lesquen said.
“If there’s one player out there with the perfect combination of charisma, irony and determination, Neymar Jr. is definitely that guy,” said Andrea Rosso, creative director for licenses at Diesel. “[Diesel’s] Only the Brave [scent] was first launched 10 years ago, and 10 is also the number of Neymar Jr. We discovered a lot of similarities.”
That included, as well, the fact that 10 is how many years Neymar — aka Neymar da Silva Santos Jr. — has been playing professional soccer.
He has always faced big challenges with bravery, said Rosso, adding: “Diesel fragrances is brave enough to have risked a lot in its life. We believe bravery is the value that makes the difference between those who succeed and those who fail.”
Neymar’s signing marks the first time Diesel fragrances has linked with a figure from the sporting world, although de Lesquen emphasized “Neymar is much more than a soccer player; the way he cuts his hair, dresses, has put tattoos all over his body” resonates globally.
The executive said Diesel fragrances are “very animated by tribes. We really want to connect with the strongest tribes for Millennials,” which have stemmed thus far from the worlds of music, film and street culture.
“We didn’t want to use [Neymar] just as a face or spokesperson,” continued de Lesquen. “The whole principle of this project was to create with him.”
Diesel ranks among the top 10 of prestige men’s scents in some European countries, such as France, the U.K. and Germany. The fragrance Neymar worked on, that’s due out this spring, could catapult the Diesel franchise into the top five in those markets, while helping introduce the brand in Asia and expand its presence in the U.S.
Neither Diesel nor L’Oréal executives would discuss sales estimates, but industry sources expect the new scent will generate retail sales upward of $100 million in its first year on counter.
Neymar shared some thoughts about the project exclusively with WWD.
WWD: Have you long loved scent?
Neymar: The first scent I remember is one that my mother wore. This immediately takes me back to Brazil when I was a child. I felt happiness and immense security.
WWD: How did you approach creating this scent?
Neymar: When we started on the project, I didn’t really know what to expect or even what my role would be exactly, but I did know that I’d be at the center of it. It would be about me, and I would be allowed to take an important part in the creative direction. You know, I have always loved fashion. I think it’s important to always be well-dressed, and in general, to look good, to feel good. The way you smell is definitely a part of that. It says a lot about who you are.
WWD: What parts of the project were you involved in?
Neymar: I took part in the most important decisions, and in particular the choice of fragrance, since it was important that I could relate with it, that it would amount to something I sincerely liked. We had working sessions to really co-create every aspect of the product and the project. I’m beyond happy with the result, and I hope I can make other people happy, as well, with it.
WWD: What did you want in terms of fragrance notes?
Neymar: It had to be a daring fragrance. I wanted a fragrance that would be both fresh and elegant, something that could give me energy and confidence in every moment of my life.
WWD: And for the packaging?
Neymar: I wanted the packaging to convey strength, but also sophistication. It had to hint at confidence, at bravery. To me, black and gold are the colors that express those values the most.
WWD: What did you have in mind for the advertising?
Neymar: We decided to tell my story through my actual tattoos. Each of my tattoos has a reason for being, and each one speaks about my life, or about a particular phase of my life.
We focused on the lion because it is an animal that represents strength and leadership. I identify with it, in that sense, but I also just find the animal really beautiful. That lion tattoo is one of my favorites. I created it with Thieres [Paim]. We selected a photo that would look cool, showing the lion’s face focused and determined.
WWD: How did you want to infuse the project with bravery?
Neymar: I do consider myself courageous. I wake up every day of my life thinking about winning, about fighting a good fight. Sometimes the adversities are many. The life of a professional athlete at my level is filled with obstacles, but I don’t give up. I know what I can achieve, and I help my teammates.
It’s like that in my personal life, as well. I cannot give up. There are many people rooting for me, and that drives me on. And that’s the mind-set I wanted to express with this project.
WWD: What does bravery mean to you?
Neymar: You need to be brave if you want to achieve great things in your life, no matter what professional area you are in. And I see daring as one of the main characteristics of bravery, of being courageous. I don’t know any story of bravery without an element of daring.
WWD: What was surprising to you about creating this scent?
Neymar: I was fascinated with all the work and expertise required to develop the juice. It was also very interesting to take part into the development of the bottle, the script of the commercial and the story of bravery. It was very important to me to be involved in each phase of the project.
WWD: What are you most looking forward to in this current soccer season?
Neymar: The fans are very important to me. They give me strength, confidence. They sustain me with their love, so that I can maintain my will to win. The social networks are one way of maintaining contact with them, but the best form of contact is by scoring a goal or winning a title. There’s a lot of energy involved.
WWD: How do you feel on your 10th anniversary as a pro?
Neymar: I used to be more afraid, I’ve been more nervous. But the experience, the wins and the losses — yes, we learn a lot more from the losses than from the victories — have given me serenity. And against negativity, God is with me.