NO. 5 TURNS 75 — IN COLOR
Byline: Soren Larson
NEW YORK — Chanel No. 5, which has enjoyed quite a bit more than 15 minutes of fame in the fragrance world, will be staying in the spotlight this year.
Chanel has secured the rights to a series of images of Chanel No. 5 created by Andy Warhol, and they are now the centerpiece of a new round of promotions for the classic fragrance brand.
In 1985, after Warhol was already famous for his series of altered views of American icons like Campbell’s soup cans and Marilyn Monroe, the artist did his own versions of Chanel No. 5.
In conjunction with the scent’s 75th birthday this year, Chanel has launched a worldwide advertising campaign — featuring three of Warhol’s nine colorful portrayals of the bottle, procured through the Warhol Foundation — and is preparing extensive in-store merchandising efforts in connection with the artist’s imagery.
In addition, Chanel will launch a group of limited-edition No. 5 items featuring the Warhol looks silk-screened on the outer packaging, which is traditionally a minimalist black and white. The products will hit stores late in March and be available only through June.
“It’s an entirely new look — Chanel No. 5 transformed into color,” said Jean Hoehn Zimmerman, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Chanel BeautA. “It’s a big change if you’re used to the traditional packaging. And it makes for an impressive in-store presentation.”
The new print ads broke in a number of March magazines — with scented strips in Glamour and Elle — and will run at least through June in what Zimmerman described as “all the major fashion magazines,” as well as titles such as Interview, George and The New Yorker.
The company will also embark on a bus shelter campaign next month and will air radio spots in over 40 markets, she said.
In stores, Chanel will be handing out vials-on-cards and postcards with peel-off samples, and will be giving away 22-inch by 28-inch posters of the Warhol rendition. In all, including the scented strips in the advertising, the company will distribute 30 million scented pieces.
The in-store promotions and limited-edition products will be launched in select retailers beginning March 30, and roll out through the spring to the fragrance’s full distribution of over 3,000 doors.
In the second half, Chanel is considering more Warhol-related print and radio advertising, as well as possible TV spots.
“This is our effort for No. 5 through this calendar year — then it’s gone,” said Zimmerman.
She said Chanel No. 5 had a 15 percent jump in sales last year, even with the launch of the Allure scent taking up much of Chanel’s focus. Volume is expected to grow at a similar pace this year, although Allure will be making more noise with the launch of a bath line this spring.
While the company does not break out specific sales figures, industry sources estimate that the growth would put No. 5 solidly over the $50 million mark at wholesale this year.
Much of the gains will be generated by the limited-edition items: a 1-oz. perfume for $250, a 0.25-oz. version for $88 and a 1.7-oz. eau de parfum for $65. The prices are the same as in the regular line. The company will also market a Warhol gift set, including a 1.2-oz. voile parfume, a 3.5-ml. perfume and a 3.5-oz. soap, for $65.
While trying to inject No. 5 with new life, Chanel also wants to guard against possible erosion of the brand as Allure — one of the top launches last year, retailers have said — stays hot.
“Having a launch like Allure, it’s hard not to take a hit in your existing business,” said Zimmerman. “But part of our plan over the last three years is that we didn’t want [No. 5] to be vulnerable — and we’ve been able to solidify the positioning.”
Barbara Zinn Moore, senior vice president for cosmetics and fragrances at Macy’s East, said the Warhol promotion should have no trouble drawing shoppers’ attentions.
“It’s a phenomenal visual,” she said. “The business has been spectacular and this is just going to take it to another level.”
Moore also praised Chanel’s continuing support of an aging brand.
“It shows that with the right promotion, you can take an older brand and make it as exciting as any of the new launches we’ve seen lately,” she said. “I also think it’s going to bring a new customer to Chanel. The Warhol name is still young and hip.”
Zimmerman also hopes that a new, younger consumer will be drawn to the No. 5 franchise by the new campaigns.
“We’re hoping that it will spread the word to a wider audience,” she said. “When you’re 75 years old, it’s hard to look young.”