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Twin Stars: Chanel Hopes Kidman Campaign Will Boost No.5

Chanel hopes its most expensive advertising effort ever, a mini-film starring Nicole Kidman, will make the No.5 scent an even bigger hit.

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PARIS — Chanel may already boast it has the world’s best-selling scent, but the fashion house hopes its most expensive advertising effort ever — a minifilm starring a couture-clad Nicole Kidman — will make No.5 even more of a blockbuster.

The two-minute spot, slated to debut in U.S. theaters Oct. 29 and on TV Nov. 11, is certainly a mega production, reuniting Kidman with “Moulin Rouge” director Baz Luhrmann and a crew of almost 200 for a five-day shoot in Sydney last December.

“The advertising campaign is key because it renews the image of No.5,” said Chanel president Françoise Montenay. “It’s more than a perfume, it’s an icon. That’s why we need iconic women — and Nicole is an icon. We’ve been dreaming of her for many years.

“For us, she is the most iconic person you could ever find,” continued Montenay. “She is really an actress. She can convey her emotions in half a second. With just one move of her face, she can make you feel something.”

According to Montenay, No.5 became the best-selling fragrance worldwide shortly after the end of the Second World War — and it has topped the charts in many countries since. But there is room for improvement. It lags at No. 4 in the U.S. and slipped from the top slot in France, edged out by Thierry Mugler’s Angel.

Asked how long it would take for Chanel to recoup the millions spent on producing the commercial and buying airtime, Montenay demurred. Instead, she characterized the Kidman project as an investment made not only in the interest of boosting sales, but “in terms of keeping the image modern.”

The Kidman spots are also expected to have a ripple effect on other Chanel products, most of which are on a strong growth track, she added.

Privately held Chanel does not give out financial information, but its beauty business is estimated to pull in about $2 billion a year.

While declining to provide dollar figures, Montenay disclosed sales performance by product category for the first half of 2004: Skin care was up 28 percent; makeup, up 10 percent, and fashion and accessories, up 38 percent. Fragrance lagged, with an uptick of only 2 percent.
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