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Chanel, Brad Pitt to Unveil First Project

It is the first time the brand has had a man speaking about a women's fragrance.

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Can a man effectively sell a women’s fragrance? Chanel is using Brad Pitt to find out.

In mid-October, the brand will do a global unveiling of its first project with Pitt (whom it signed in May): a commercial and print ad for the iconic Chanel No.5.

“To keep a legend fresh, you always have to change its point of view,” said Andrea d’Avack, president, Chanel Fragrance & Beauty. “It is the first time we’ve had a man speaking about a women’s fragrance. We think very much that the perfume is a seduction between a man, a woman and the perfume. No.5 is our leading fragrance, and we are willing to make the investment to keep it on that level.”

D’Avack emphasized that the brand plans to use Pitt only on No.5. He joins a host of celebrity faces to front the 91-year-old scent — from Ali MacGraw, Catherine Deneuve and Candice Bergen to Nicole Kidman, Audrey Tautou and Vanessa Paradis.

While he wouldn’t spill many details, d’Avack noted that the commercial, shot by Joe Wright, features Pitt speaking in a way that the viewer assumes he’s speaking to a woman — and then it’s revealed that the addressee is actually the scent. Wright has worked with Chanel since 2006, and directed several Coco Mademoiselle commercials with Keira Knightley, whom he is also directing in the upcoming “Anna Karenina.”

The Pitt commercial is planned for an Oct. 15 global launch, while the print ad is expected to begin appearing in November fashion, beauty and lifestyle magazines. D’Avack added that the campaign will also include extensive social-media outreach. “We are reaching the ecosystem of communications vehicles,” he said. “We believe this dynamic, modern campaign will make people think in a completely different way about No.5.”

While d’Avack declined to comment on the advertising spend for the Pitt campaign, industry sources estimated that the brand was spending at least $10 million on U.S. advertising, as well as an estimated $7 million for Pitt’s services.