PARIS — Backed by Hollywood superstar Hilary Swank, Guerlain is targeting a young consumer base with a new fragrance called Insolence.
It is the first time the brand has signed a celebrity to front a scent.
“She’s a very, very talented actress,” said Renato Semerari, president and chief executive officer of Guerlain. “She is more than just a spokeswoman for us. She was the muse for the project.”
“Hilary is the perfect match with the project and how we’re trying to position it,” continued Pamela Baxter, president and ceo of the Perfumes and Cosmetics Group North America at LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, which owns Guerlain. “It embodies spontaneity and a daring personality. It’s not just about connecting a face with the brand, but a voice. As the face and voice, she’ll resonate with the younger consumer we are targeting.”
“She is a feminine mix of Meryl Streep and Robert De Niro,” added Laurent Boillot, Guerlain’s international marketing director. “She is capable of transforming herself.”
The signing of Swank played another strategic role for the company: to help expand the brand’s image into the Anglo-Saxon market.
“Guerlain is very well known in France, with a quality image and notoriety, but it’s nonexistent in England and in the U.S.,” said Boillot.
While company executives would not comment on projections, industry sources estimated that the fragrance would generate more than $30 million worldwide in retail sales and $15 million in the U.S. the first year. It is estimated that about $4 million will be spent on advertising and promotional events during the launch season.
For Insolence’s TV advertising, directed by John Mathieson, Swank — the Oscar-winning actress of “Boys Don’t Cry” and “Million Dollar Baby” — showed her sexy side. In the 20- and 30-second spots, to debut in September, Swank is shown swaying. Flashes of light illuminate a close-up of her face and the Insolence bottle.
Print ads, shot by Vincent Peters and featuring Swank and the Insolence bottle, will run as single and double pages.
“Typically, Guerlain advertisements are much more subdued,” said Linda Maiocco, vice president of marketing for Guerlain. “Here, she’s very out there as a modern, confident and daring woman.”
“The idea was the beginning of the world, the Big Bang from a feminine perspective,” continued Boillot, adding Guerlain wanted to present Swank as a modern-day Venus.
It’s a role Swank enjoyed.
“My [movie] characters may not be ultra-feminine, so it’s great to show that side of me,” she said at Insolence’s press launch in Paris. “Guerlain can see the multifacets of women.”
For 31-year-old Swank, the name Insolence “conjured up empowerment for women, a woman who is independent and allowed to follow her heart and her dreams.”
Swank, who until now has shied away from endorsement deals, said it was “an honor and a privilege to have my name associated with the company. I did my research, and when I realized what Guerlain does for women, how it has evolved with women and helped women believe in themselves, then I wanted to commit a million percent.”
U.S. print advertising for the Insolence ad is planned for September in 12 beauty and celebrity lifestyle magazines. During the launch season, there will be about 100 million impressions, 60 percent of which will be scented strips.
Additional advertising in the U.S. will include guerrilla marketing — fragrance sachets will be distributed at New York nightclubs and hotel bars. Ads will be launched over cell phones, through podcasts and via text messages. Outdoor ads are also a possibility.
Insolence is aimed at women aged around 25, who consume more fragrance than any other demographic, according to company executives.
“It’s for those consumers who say, ‘Guerlain’s a great fragrance house but too classic for me,’ ” said Boillot. “The scent still evokes great luxury; it is Guerlain, but it’s more extroverted.”
“We see this as an opportunity to bring in younger consumers as we build awareness of the brand in the U.S. market,” said Baxter.
The fragrance, by Symrise’s Maurice Roucel, who created L’Instant de Guerlain, and Guerlain’s Sylvaine Delacourte, belongs to the fruity floral family. A vibrant top note of violet combines with midnotes of red berries, including raspberry, used for the first time in a Guerlain scent. Base notes for Insolence include the house’s signature iris accords with tonka bean notes.
“It’s stronger than L’Instant,” said Boillot, referring to the last women’s fragrance Guerlain launched, in 2003.
“Insolence still has the premium codes of Guerlain, but in terms of the concept and image, it is a bit trendier than L’Instant was,” said Semerari. “What is very important for us is to become a bit more visible.”
“The fragrance is created for a very daring, confident and free-spirited woman with a strong personality,” said Maiocco.
Insolence’s glass bottle, designed by sculptor Serge Mansau, is like a spiral, made of three attached half-spheres and designed to look like a whirlwind, a twirling dress or a flower unfolding.
The scent comes in 30-, 50- and 100-ml. eau de toilette sprays for 41.50 euros, or $52.60 at current exchange rates; 58.30 euros, or $73.90, and 84 euros, or $106.40, respectively. A 7.5-ml. fragrance extract will retail for 90 euros, or $114.
Insolence will be launched in August in the U.S., where it will be available in more than 1,600 doors, including Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman stores. In September, the fragrance will be sold internationally.
— With contributions from Michelle Edgar in New York