|Panaguian look alike|
Panaguian, Chantal's Director of Marketing, leaned towards me and spread his hands on his glass desk, pink buffed nails, long narrow fingers and heavy, glossy black hair shading his pale skin. His face had a sheen of aftershave and gave off a scent of animals and flowers. "What I want," he said with a French accent, "is to make you the most sexually attractive man in the world."
He smiled a carpet dealer's reassurance at me while his eyes roamed the room. He was dressed with the heavy expense of the modern French executive; tousled razor cut, jeans, a casual jacket over a black silk shirt. Behind him, on glass shelves, lit from underneath so that they glowed with light, were the crystal bottles of the fabulously expensive perfumes that made Parfums Chantal rich. FIX, (`Just This Once,' the advertising said). LUXU (`Purely Primitive'). CALM (`Before the Storm'). CLIMAX (`The End. And the Beginning.') and of course the classic CHANTAL (`The Essence of Success'). Small monuments to the power of marketing and packaging. Bottled dreams. Icons of wealth and desire.
"Do you know what pheromones are, how they work? Never mind. Just take it on board that this sexual attractor is a very important new product for us."
Obviously it was important. They had flown me from London on their corporate jet, given me a suite at the George V. The least I could do, I thought, was hear him out. Paying attention, is getting harder these days. The world burns and men in suits still talk of marketing. He was still talking.
"So we don't want it macho. What it has to be is new, contemporary, a kind of high-tech secret weapon," -- his voice lowered to the level of a secret briefing -- "unnoticeable, unavoidable, and absolutely irresistible to women.'
"Is it?" I said.
"Is it what?"
"Legally what we can say is that it is `attractive. It is definitely attractive." No doubt you've already guessed what it is."
He held his hands up in surrender to the power of the idea. "We are going to call it, `FORMULA ONE.'
"What a good name," I said without enthusiasm. "But it doesn't have anything to do with me. And I don't have anything to do with Formula One any more. I don't drive."
His face relaxed into the patient smile of a man who has a fully funded corporate retirement plan. "You are dangerous, Evers. Controversial, still mildly famous. You'd be surprised at your recognition profile in the Far East as well as across the US and Europe. And, thank God, you are single. And you look, excuse me but it is a phrase that came out of the research, like a walking crag.
“We need to show that it works. We don't want someone so handsome like a Pitt or a Cruise he doesn't need it. Please don't make that face. With a little retouching we can make you quite handsome enough. But really you are perfect, Evers. Absolutely perfect. You have a certain street cred. A little down on your luck, there is a touch of scandal hanging around you isn't there?”
"So you want me to walk around wearing this stuff."
"Do what you like. Naturally as a company we would prefer you would wear Formula One every day, but that would be your personal choice. I think you might find your life more interesting. Personally" he said, waving the thought away, "I don't give a fart whether you wear it or not.
"We have scheduled a global roll out with a sequential 19 country launch timed to feature you in each of the 19 countries on 5 continents during the week of the host country's Grand Prix. Start in Bahrain in March, finish in Brazil in November. The month prior to the week of the Bahrain Grand Prix, we will shoot two sixty second commercials for cinema and TV. We will also do newspaper and magazine advertising in 48 countries, but the majority of our media mix is allocated to PR. So we will be asking you to do your share of the PR. With some of the most desirable women in the world I might add. You'll love it, believe me. And them.”
Evers is marketed as "involved" with a different beautiful and preferably famous woman in every country. It's grueling work and as Evers later points out, there’s an ethical dilemma attached to wearing a sexual attractor. How do you know if a woman is attracted to you or the chemical? If you spray it on the bedpost, would she prefer the bedpost?” To be continued.