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Why Sauvage is the world's most sold perfume

No, it's not only because of Johnny Depp

Why Sauvage is the world's most sold perfume  No, it's not only because of Johnny Depp

All publicity is good publicity, we can now be more than sure. Despite the controversies that have accompanied Johnny Depp's name in recent years, or perhaps because of them, according to data collected by BOF, the perfume for which he has been testimonial from 2015 to date, Sauvage by Dior, has become the best-selling fragrance in the world. Surpassing big female successes such as Coco Mademoiselle by Chanel and La Vie Est Belle by Lancôme, the brand claimed to have sold one bottle every three seconds in 2021, while this year the first-half turnover of the perfume and cosmetics division of parent company LVMH grew by 13% on an organic basis to €3.61 billion. A success made of perseverance and mutual esteem between Depp and the brand, which, despite Amber Heard's accusations of violence and abuse in 2016, decided to continue its professional relationship with the actor, refusing to make statements and ignoring criticism, unlike Disney. A choice that paid off commercially this year, when the victory in the defamation case brought by Johnny Depp against his ex-wife put the film star (and Sauvage) under the attention of all the media. 

But it is not only the press that has played a crucial role in Sauvage's achievement: over the past year, the Fragrance Foundation Awards has named Sauvage Elixir (a new, more potent formulation of the perfume) the luxury men's fragrance of the year, while Dior has added a promising new testimonial to its stable of talent, Paris Saint Germain football star Kylian Mbappé. Sauvage's surge is also part of a favorable landscape for the perfume market: according to NPD, sales in the UK, Italy, Spain, France, and Germany grew 19% year-on-year to $8.3 billion in March 2022, while perfume sales in the US rose 43% to $6.5 billion over the same period. 

Before 2015, the original Eau Sauvage collection - which was first launched in 1966 - had only three flankers (fragrances created from a common base), but it was thanks to perfumer François Demachy that the fragrance reached its current formulation, including top notes of bergamot, ambroxan for "marine and animal notes to create an untamed sensuality" and "masculine notes" of vetiver, geranium, Sichuan pepper and patchouli. Dior has spent the last seven years building on the initial success of Sauvage, on consumers' genuine interest in the product, investing in television commercials and major out-of-home advertising campaigns, as well as expanding the roster of ambassadors, launching new formulations, and building dedicated displays in major shops around the world, through completely new storytelling that blends the brand's heritage and the personality of Johnny Depp. Striking the right balance between luxury and mass appeal in both product and marketing, Dior has rooted the new Sauvage storytelling in the American West, with a lanky, jewel-laden Depp playing his guitar in the desert, a far cry from the classic model of perfume ads, of the European man in a suit chasing a mysterious woman, a positioning "far from the stereotypical representation of masculinity, but very true to the aspirations of most men".