LONDON — Burberry’s first in-house fragrance is a men’s scent aimed at rock ’n’ roll souls.
Christopher Bailey has got a thing for live music. Burberry’s chief creative officer loves a gig, and it’s this passion that has inspired Burberry’s first fragrance since it brought the operations of its beauty business in-house on April 1.
“When it’s a licensed business, you have much less control over all aspects,” said Bailey. Now that the business is in-house, “we have been able to have a very consistent message from working with the noses, all the way to working with the bottle suppliers, and to all the imagery as well. You can really work through the way you are going to communicate it, the way you are going to talk to consumers, the way that you are going to put this fragrance out into the world, you can really look at all the aspects of it.”
Bailey said the scent, called Burberry Brit Rhythm, is inspired by the music in the brand’s DNA. “Music has become such an integral part of our world, from the digital site that we have — Burberry acoustic — to the things that we do at all the shows with the music team here that I set up,” he told WWD.
It’s not just about the sound. With Rhythm, the brand is aiming to capture the emotion, excitement and attitude attached to live music, he said. “It’s really that kind of adrenaline feeling that you get from music. The effect of hairs rising on the back of your neck. The moment where you are anticipating your favorite band coming on, or when you are listening to a beautiful piece,” said Bailey. “It’s a sexy fragrance because I think there is a sexiness to that kind of rock ’n’ roll world. It’s very leathery. It’s sexy and a little bit smoky and sensuous and I kind of like that idea of skin and leather. They were the starting points.”
Bailey collaborated with International Flavors & Fragrances and perfumers Dominique Ropion, Anne Flipo and Olivier Polge on the fragrance, which includes top notes of fresh basil verveina, spicy cardamom and juniper berries. In the middle, there’s black leather, patchouli and styrax resin. The base has a heady mix of cedarwood, incense and tonka bean.
Bailey pointed out that within the Burberry fragrance portfolio, this is the first scent with a certain edge. “We don’t have anything with this kind of attitude. They are either a little more classic or traditional or they don’t have this kind of sexiness or attitude,” he said. “It’s a really big thing, because it’s a completely different approach to any other fragrances that we have got and that we have worked on.”
The leather jacket motif filtered through to the design of the flacon, which Bailey oversaw and is a riff on the rock star’s staple studded leather jacket. The smoky glass bottle is textured with stripes and studs aligning to form Burberry’s classic check. The lid is a clear gray Perspex cube. On one side of the black box is a tone-on-tone Burberry check and the fragrance’s name, sideways, in silver; on the other, the silhouette of the bottle is embossed in silver.
Bailey said he wants to take the Brit bottle “to the next level.
“We’ve got this bottle that has become iconic within the Burberry fragrances. It’s very square, it’s very graphic, it’s linear,” said Bailey. The clean lines and proportions of the bottle appear as a tattoo on the model in the TV campaign and temporary tattoos in the shape of the bottle will be given away to consumers through digital channels once the scent has launched.
Bailey described the launch of the fragrance as “the biggest ever men’s launch” for the brand. It will be supported by a black-and-white print and film digitally led campaign that will break online on Sept. 3. The brand did not share more details on the campaign break but it said that it would be “disruptive.” The company will spend 30 percent of its marketing spend on digital activity. By contrast, Burberry said its competitors spend on average 4 percent on digital marketing for fragrance launches.
“We shot in black-and-white and it’s really powerful,” said Bailey of the campaign. It will be activated on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and mobile, and there will be events and a social aspect to the push. Sampling will happen on Facebook and there will be content to unlock on Burberry’s Web site, although the company declined to give further details. Bailey added that “music will be an integral part of the launch.”
A capsule collection, heavy on leather jackets and denim, will be sold to complement the fragrance.
Bailey said the scent is pitched at “a guy who loves music, a guy who likes the attitude of what music says and how that links to fashion and to style.” Simona Cattaneo, senior vice president of Burberry’s beauty division, said Burberry is targeting the influential Millennial consumer and that the fragrance will be a “fundamental cornerstone as well as an entry level to the brand.”
In the U.S., Rhythm eau de toilette comes in 90 ml. for $79, 50 ml. for $60 and 30 ml. for $49. A 150-ml. aftershave balm will sell for $48 and a 150-ml. shower gel for $32.
The scent will be distributed in the U.K. by Fragrance Factory, in Canada by Clarins, and by Beauté Prestige International in France, Spain and the U.S., as well as for most of Europe and some Asia-Pacific travel-retail markets. Cosmax will distribute it in Australia.
It will launch at Bloomingdale’s in mid-August and then roll out to key partners including Macy’s, Printemps, Hong Kong’s Harvey Nichols and Lane Crawford stores, Burberry stores, Harrods and Selfridges and then globally. Burberry declined to provide a first-year retail sales estimate, but industry sources said it could make up to 25 million pounds, or $37.9 million at current exchange, in wholesale revenues in its first year on counter.
“We are [pleased] with the upcoming launch of Brit Rhythm, our largest and most comprehensive men’s fragrance launch ever and the first since we integrated our Burberry Beauty business in April,” said Angela Ahrendts, chief executive officer. “This milestone marks the start of an ambitious program of innovative, immersive and internationally synchronized initiatives that will fully leverage our young brand positioning in the beauty sector.”
Burberry said earlier this year that it expects revenues in its beauty division to reach about 140 million pounds, or $224 million, in the fiscal year ended March 31, with around 25 million pounds, or $40 million, of incremental retail-wholesale operating profit, weighted toward the second half.
Ahrendts hopes for the new business are high: “The creativity and strength of our teams, external partners and positive industry response are an exciting beginning to what could be our fastest growing division in the intermediate term.”