Chanel no.5 (Created 1920)

Beauty Editor

Marketing and Advertising


Chanel’s initial marketing strategy was to generate a buzz around her new fragrance by hosting what was essentially a promotional event. She invited a group of elite friends to dine with her in an elegant restaurant in Grasse where she surprised and delighted her guests by spraying them with Chanel No. 5. The official launch place and date of Chanel No. 5 was in her rue Cambon boutique in the fifth month of the year, on the fifth day of the month: May 5, 1921. Chanel’s mystical obsession with the number five again proved to be her lucky charm. She infused the shop’s dressing rooms with the scent, and gifted a select few of her high society friends with bottles. The success of Chanel No. 5 was immediate and phenomenal. Chanel’s friend Misia Sert exclaimed: “It was like a winning lottery ticket.”

In the 1950s the glamour of Chanel No. 5 was reignited by the celebrity of Marilyn Monroe. Monroe’s unsolicited endorsement of the fragrance provided invaluable publicity. In a 1954 interview, when asked what she wore to bed, the movie star provocatively responded: “five drops of Chanel No. 5.”

In the 1970’s, running the risk of being labeled as mass market, the fragrance was removed from drug stores and similar outlets.

In the 1990s, more money was reportedly spent advertising Chanel No. 5 than was spent for the promotion of any other fragrance brand.

From the 80’s Television commercials were inventive mini-films with production values of surreal fantasy and seduction. In 2003, actress Nicole Kidman was enlisted to represent the fragrance in a concept that the director described as “No. 5 The Film”. Lurhrmann’s film was shown on television and in movie theatres in both a two-minute length and a thirty-second version. The project had cost 18 million English pounds; Kidman was paid 3.7 million dollars for her work.

It was announced in May 2012 that Brad Pitt would be the first male to advertise Chanel No. 5 in the history of the fragrance.

Chanel No. 5 Today

According to Chanel, the formula used to produce No. 5 has changed little since its creation, except for the necessary exclusion of natural civet and certain nitro-musks.

No. 5 in its original 1921 formulation is preserved in the archives of the Osmothèque, donated to the collection by perfumer Jacques Polge on behalf of Chanel.