When it comes to success, it seems like JT is always in the driver's seat, so it's only fitting that he's featured confidently behind the wheel in Givenchy's new ad campaign for Play Sport. Check out my exclusive interview with the mega-star to get the dish on his latest fragrance collaboration, "must-have" grooming gear, and so much more.
Before I begin, I need to put this entire situation into context for you. Less than a year ago, I was living and working in Michigan, reading interviews like the one I'm about to share with you and thinking, "That lucky reporter. I wish I could interview (insert celeb name here.)" Fast forward, and here I am, high above the concrete jungle, waiting with those "lucky reporters" to meet mega-star Justin Timberlake and talk about the latest Givenchy fragrance launch - Play Sport. It's surreal, thrilling, and honestly a bit terrifying all at the same time. I suppose that saying "Be careful what you wish for," would apply to my current situation.
Luckily I'm sleep deprived and fresh off Fashion Week, so I haven't really had time to process ... then it hits me, "OMG, I'm about to meet Justin Timberlake!" Not great timing on my part. I think I have my nerves in check when out walks Gayle King, as in Oprah's BFF Gayle King! She's just wrapped up her own interview, and now my thoughts are off and running again. I hope he's nice. I hope I don't have some sort of Bridget Jones moment when I meet him, which happens to me all too often. I hope there's some sort of connection so the convo is less like an interview and more like a chat. And let's be honest, a personal rendition of Sexy Back would be a serious bonus!
Next thing you know, I'm standing in front of JT himself. In his slim-cut suit, a cobalt tie, and hat, he was definitely rocking his distinctive sense of style. But rather than being a ball of energy, which is what I'd heard, he seemed surprisingly subdued. In that moment I would have described him as polite, soft-spoken, and maybe a bit guarded ... Okay, so any chance of a personal serenade was probably out of the question, but he seemed nice, and I didn't break a heel or pass out from excitement, so we were off to a good start. And I never, ever expected that over the next 30 minutes I'd learn about JT's personal perspective on spray tans or his passion for preventing gum disease, but I guess life is full of surprises!
TM: Tell me about your relationship with Givenchy and what it means to represent such a prestigious brand.
JT: I started working with Givenchy near the end of 2007. Obviously I was flattered when I was approached. I loved the brand and it felt like a cool fit. Riccardo's kind of an expert [He's referring to Givenchy's creative genius Riccardo Tisci of course], so it's an overall branding relationship but translated properly into fragrances like Play and now Play Sport.
TM: Speaking of fragrances, the question I'm asked most often is whether celebrities like yourself are actually involved in creating the juice and if you really wear it. Do you?
JT: Yeah, obviously I wear it. But as for my involvement, well, I'm not a chemist if that's what you're asking, and I didn't make it myself. Collaborating on the fragrance is kind of a cool process though. They would send me test tubes of different options and then I'd tell them, I like this one because it smells woody and this one because it smells citrusy, but I wouldn't know how to put them together to make a fragrance. That's the experts' job, but in a macro way I can give input on what I like and why. And when it came to the campaign for Sport, coming up with the bottle and layout, even picking the right photographer, I was kind of like the marketing team as well.
TM: I love the ad campaign. It's kind of classy sport. [Look at this image and just try to tell me you disagree...]
JT: Thanks. It's cool, right. Age wise, it's tough to do chic and still be really masculine. It has to be done right. We didn't want to have that whole torso in the water thing. It's not what it's about. It's a lifestyle brand, Givenchy, and there's no need to go away from that. The product is good enough on its own. And honestly, I'd never do that torso pose. It'd just be weird.
TM: [At this point the only other person in the room with us makes a mention of needing a spray tan and I see this smirk come across Justin's face.] I can't resist asking ... And a shot like that would probably require a spray tan???
JT: [He laughs.] Yeah, okay, that other reporter was obsessed with spray tans and asked if I get them. And no, I have never gotten a spray tan. Do guys really get spray tans?
[This got us off track for a bit. As we went on discussing man tanning and the more drastic measures that some of Hollywood's finest have taken to maintain their youth, the same phrase kept being thrown around, "In LA or in Hollywood someone would probably do this or that." Then the sudden realization that, well, JT is part of that crowd. A quick apology seemed appropriate, to which he replied, "Hey, I'm just renting." That comment was so refreshing and reminded me that even though he's a multi-talented mega-star, his roots are still firmly planted in a place that's much less la la-land and much more real world.]
TM: Now that we got that out of the way ... Fragrance is really personal and I think it can reflect your place in life or create a memory about a moment in time. Play Sport seems to be a more contemporary version of the original fragrance. Do you think it reflects your own evolution over the past few years?
JT: No, I wouldn't say it's definitive of any one thing. I see fragrance as an extension of who you are that day. You pick it like you pick a piece of clothing. It's what you like at that moment. I wore Play more at night, but I'd say with Play Sport it's really appropriate for anytime and for all events. But again, it's not like it's a definition, it's an addition.
TM: How would you describe the Play guy versus the Play Sport guy?
JT: I don't know that there has to be a huge difference. They both have a place. For me it's a mood thing. But for the guy who just needs to keep things simple, I'd say go with Play Sport. It's an all-in-one fragrance.
TM: Could you give me one word that describes Play Sport?
[And silence ... but this was one of the coolest moments for me because I got to witness JT's creative process in action. It was almost as if you could see the wheels turning as he was thinking about how to wrap this entire fragrance up into a neat little one-word package.]
JT: Only one word?
TM: I'll give you three. I hate to put a limit on genius! [Then I explained a little further that when I'm writing, sometimes I need to quickly capture the personality of someone who might wear a fragrance in a few words, i.e. If your guy is like this ... Then try ... cologne. And just like that, the tables turned! This interview became a joint venture.]
JT: Okay, so how would you describe it?
JT: Yeah, I like adventurous.
JT: Hmmm, I get that, but I'd describe it as fresh.
TM: Okay, we'll compromise on fresh, and I'd say either modern or contemporary.
JT: Contemporary, yeah, I love that. Adventurous. Fresh. Contemporary. That's totally it!
We had a totally serendipitous moment there. We had a baby. We had like a marketing baby!
TM: High five to that! [Yeah, I got an official high five from JT - amazing! It was kind of hard to focus after that, but moving on...]
I feel like creating a fragrance is probably a lot like creating music. Everyone starts out with the same notes to work with, but it's how you mix the notes together that make the final product so unique. Which one of your songs do you feel best embodies the Givenchy Play Sport fragrance and why?
JT: Wow. [You could tell that his mind was flipping through tracks, and this was the closest I would get to hearing him sing. He kind of mouthed some words, but he was definitely hearing the beat.] Lovestoned. It's got an energy. It goes into the interlude and then hits all the different senses, and it's the one that came to mind first. Yeah, Lovestoned.
TM: What's your regular skincare/grooming routine? Any favorite products or tips you can share?
JT: Dental floss. You have to be careful about preventing gum disease.
TM: Anything else?
JT: No hair gel, absolutely no spray tanning, and an electric toothbrush.
TM: You know the ADA is going to ask you for an endorsement after this.
JT: Yeah, maybe. I guess the only other thing I would add is that I've never heard a woman complain about a guy taking care of himself. So guys, there's nothing wrong with cleaning yourself up and looking good.
Those are true words to live by! As Justin's agent walked into the room and asked how things went, the singer said again, "We had a baby. We had a marketing baby!" LOVE that! And JT, if you ever want to expand our marketing baby family, just give me a holler.