Paco Rabanne Invictus: All Eyes on the Prize

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Some days, I really love my job, writes Rebecca Mann. Last month, in Paris, I had one of those days. The event in question was the official reveal of Invictus, the new men’s fragrance from Paco Rabanne, fronted by professional athlete Nick Youngquest. The Moodie Report was the exclusive travel retail media at the launch.

And what a launch it was – as befits the expectations for this new fragrance. Puig re-energised the men’s market with the 2008 introduction of Paco Rabanne 1 Million, still the world leader in the masculine sector. It’s fair to say that a lot is expected of its successor Invictus. If the reveal is anything to go by, it will deliver.

Paco Rabanne Invictus will make its debut on 1 July

Every single element, from the venue to the presentations to the concept itself, was exceptional. Puig has managed once again to create something different and audacious, imbued with the trademark Paco Rabanne tongue-in-cheek humour.

Invictus, as the name suggests, is all about victory. Winning. Being the champion. An invincible hero whom nothing and no-one can resist. Accordingly, the ad campaign references how today’s sportsmen are worshipped as gods of the stadium – although Invictus is by no means a traditional sport fragrance.

The face of Invictus, Nick Youngquest, is an inspired choice. Fit on every level, he was selected not just for his obvious physical attributes, but for his authenticity as a sportsman. He is utterly fabulous in the ad campaign, delivering an irresistible mix of gorgeous, cocky and funny, while wearing very little. What’s not to like?

Fragrance face Nick Youngquest, shooting the ad campaign

In real life, Youngquest is way more than just a great pair of pecs. In a career highlight (Madonna who?) I was granted a one-to-one session during which we discussed week-long nakedness, rugby and shopping. Youngquest was charm personified: articulate, knowledgeable, funny and self-deprecating – the antithesis of the bland, uncommunicative MAW (model actor whatever) that Puig was so keen to avoid for this project.

We see a lot of Youngquest in the ad campaign – but we’ll see even more come the end of the year, when he stars in the inaugural Invictus calendar (put me down for 20. I want to wallpaper my office with them). The calendar concept is linked to the new Invictus Award, a groundbreaking initiative whereby seven athletes, from seven different countries, representing seven different sports, will compete against each other in a competition due to begin in July. The episodes will air on YouTube.

A tough day at the office for The Moodie Report’s Rebecca Mann

The seven athletes (who will be mentored by fragrance face Youngquest) live together in one house while they compete in various sporting activities – think Big Brother meets the Olympics. The winner, as chosen by the viewing public, will receive a €50,000 grant to finance a charity project of their choice, and will feature in the 2015 Invictus calendar (to be released in 2014).

Which just leaves the juice. So what does Invictus smell like? Nose Véronique Nyberg was charged with reinventing freshness in a Paco Rabanne way. “I needed to create a sensual freshness, something that had not already been seen,” she told The Moodie Report at the launch. “It had to be different and audacious; unique yet commercial. This was not easy. It took two-and-a-half years and over 5,500 versions.”

Nose Véronique Nyberg at the Paris launch event

Nyberg added: “Invictus smells like the skin of a champion; a frozen caress on burning skin. We were really aiming for salty skin – but without any smell of the ocean – that would make you want to lick it and taste it.” Gulp. That was certainly the effect it had as worn by Youngquest, although thankfully we all managed to restrain ourselves and merely inhale him in a professional way. For oh, about five full minutes. From top to toe. What can I say, I’m a slave to my work…

Invictus will be pre-launched exclusively with Aelia for a two-week period beginning 1 July, before being rolled out to the global travel retail channel. We predict a winning performance.

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