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The Chanel No 5 Commercial

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I am writing about the making of a commercial for Chanel which is perhaps the most famous perfume in the world and has been so for the past 80 years. Chanel decided to make the commercial because the perfume was no longer number one in America; it had dropped to number five. Just as the perfume is very special, exclusive and expensive, so the advertisement had to be exclusive and expensive to help Chanel No 5 become the number one perfume in America again. Chanel chose both a world famous director Baz Luhmann and actress Nicole Kidman for the commercial and they had worked well before in the famous film Moulin Rouge.

The commercial cost £5m which is the kind of budget for a full length film but it lasted only for a couple of minutes. It actually cost more than that, probably about £18,000,000 because the stars had to be paid and the the time on television too. There was even a film on the making of it which lasted half an hour, but this has never been shown in England. The commercial was shot in Sydney although it could be any city in the world to appeal to customers all over the world. The scenery does look like New York, probably because the American audience was the most important because it was there that people had stopped buying the perfume. Also New York is seen as a place for the rich and famous.

The commercial is in the form of a love story, like a romantic fairy story. The storyline of the commercial is based on a celebrity actress played by Nicole Kidman who escapes from the paparazzi and her fans and gets into a taxi. The taxi already had a passenger, a good looking young man who was a writer and who doesn’t recogise her.She lies to him and pretends she is just a dancer. Their eyes meet and they fall in love. She immediately asks the driver to drive off. Soon she comes to the home of the young man which is in an apartment block. The two of them share a romantic time together, before she has to return to the real world and her work. She sees a ghostly figure in the doorway, just like her secretary, telling her she has responsibilities and has to get back to work. So she leaves her lover’s apartment and returns to the red carpet and soon makes a public appearance, coming down a grand staircase wearing an elegant black gown. She is a stronger more confident person from having met her lover. This is to show that wearing Chanel no 5 perfume makes women stronger and more confident.

The young man’s apartment has an enormous lit ‘C’ sign, which is the Chanel logo, on the roof top and as she goes back to her real life she can see it and her lover and feels sad.. Back the paparazzi come and take photo shots of her while she stares back up at the man. Although she still sees the sign of Chanel, which makes her share her memories with him, but she still turns back to her strong personality and walks confidently. While the man remembers her from the top of the ‘C’ sign on the apartmentroof by her kiss, smile and perfume. This is a tale of a stolen love, fine jewellery and the fragrance coming together into an unforgettable commercial.

The whole story relates to the product because it is romantic, mysterious set in a rich city and the perfume is never mentioned by name or the bottle shown . There are only two signs of the perfume in the whole commercial. The large ‘C’ logo on the apartment building and the gold and diamond ‘No 5’ necklace worn by Nicole Kidman.

The different techniques of film making, such as the costumes used, lighting, sound, camera angles and characterisation that Baz Luhrmann chose help to make the commercial a great success and an artistic masterpiece. He sets it in a popular large city which could be any where across the world like New York or Paris with lots of buildings and skyscraper with a river flowing through the city which has light reflecting on it to add to the romantic and mysterious feel. It is set during the night time so the lights are reflected on the river.

Chanel chose the costumes that Nicole Kidman wore to make the perfume appeal to rich beautiful women who wear beautiful clothes but her lover is scruffy and unknown. She had five special outfits made for her designed by Karl Lagerfeld, a famous fashion designer, at great cost. They were all sewn by hand in the Chanel costume workshop and were made in duplicate. Chanel clothes are only worn by rich women. One of the dressses is mainly a bright pink feathery dress it makes her look like a pop star, princess or like Cinderella at the ball. The jewellery she wears is fabulous with a diamond and white gold necklace with a No 5 logo made of 320 small diamonds ( some reports say 687) which hangs down her back in a pendant so the audience can see it clearly. It cost £17,000,000 to make.

At the beginning the lighting is mainly black and white to give a more dramatic and romantic feel to the commercial. There are a lot of camera flashes which make it very bright and the fireworks up in the sky also make it look dramatic and colourful. The camera lights up her face very brightly indeed for most of the time showng her beauty.She is the main person so the lighting is on her, on him the lighting is more subdued. All of the fireworks in the sky reflect on the river. Even the ‘Chanel’ sign is lit up on the building at night time so that it can be seen across the city.

The sound track is classical music by Debussy called Clair de lune played by the Sydney Philharmonic Orchestra, it is sophisticated. The music mimics the action during the advertisement. For example discordant sounds are used when she tries to escape. There is also the sound from the cameras’ clicks and the news reporter on the television of that she is famous world wide. There are a lot of dialogue sounds used to show the conversations between the actor and the actress when they meet and stay together and talking about each other.

The characterisation of the most famous women in the world is a close resemblance of Nicole Kidman’s real life, being chased by fans and the paparazzi and having an unhappy love life. Many people noticed that the commercial is very similar to the film Moulin Rouge which Nicole Kidman starred in. Even the male character in the advertisement is artistic and bohemian and very similar to Evan McGregor’s character in Moulin Rouge. This was probably done to please Chanel because the artistic director of Chanel Jacques Hellau was impressed by Moulin Rouge and very much by Nicole Kidman who he thought was just right to advertise Chanel no 5. He let Baz Luhrmann be free to make the commercial how he wanted.

The camera shots were taken from three different places which are close-up shots, medium shots and long shots. In the close-up shots, which are done at the most important moments of the film and concentrate on Nicole Kiddman and not the man, they are her face mainly. The No5 necklace is also taken as a close up because it is the point of the advertisement. The man is taken close up when she is leaving him.It is like when the smell of the perfume is going because perfume doesn’t last for ever. The medium shots are in the apartment, when the story moves on. There is her pink dress in the street, her climbing the stairs in her black gown and the man sitting on the ‘C’ sign. The long shots are taken from the lights, glamourous and on the Chanel sign on the building.

In my opinion, I would say that this advertisement is extremely successful. It was talked about a lot and created some mystery just like the perfume Chanel No 5. It was not released widely and although it is a mini film, a DVD has never been made of it. The commercial, just like the perfume, is exclusive.It was not released everywhere at the same time but gradually from one country to another depending how important the sales are to Chanel. It was premiered in Australia on October 5th 2004 on Chanel 9 TV. The next country it was showed in was America at the beginning of November 2004 both in the cinema and on TV,because that was the country where the sales had gone down. At the time it was first shown in America there were also parties in rich shopping malls showing the commercial. Free champagne was drunk and chocolates were eaten, only rich people were invited. It was all to create a glitzy image.

It was then shown in England and other countries in Europe. Chanel was not just trying to get quick sales but to make sure that No 5 still had an iconic, Hollywood image. Nicole Kidman was blond and beautiful just like Marylin Monro who had advertised the perfume in the 1950’s. Chanel were lucky to get Nicole Kidman to work for them for she is blond, beautiful and famous and continues their tradition.

The film was released just before Christmas in 2004 to try to get Christmas sales. Nicole Kidman is not very young, she is 37, and Channel are trying to make people of all ages choose Chanel no 5 as a present for women they know, their sisters and mothers as well as their wives and girlfriends They were afraid that people only thought of it as a present for their mothers or grandmothers because it was invented in 1923. They wanted to give it a modern up to date image and by using a famous actress of 2005. We don’t really know if the advertisement was successful and made more sales because Chanel aren’t telling anyone. But whether the advertisement made money or not, it made Chanel more famous and that is good.

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