By  on January 19, 2005

NEW YORK — Giorgio Armani is moving to strengthen his dominant grip on the men’s market with a new fragrance, Black Code, which is designed to seduce new customers who are not turned on by his number one-selling Acqua di Gio for Men. Armani’s beauty licensee, L’Oréal USA, is taking a bit of a departure on this men’s fragrance, its seventh under the Armani banner. The new scent is a fresh, seductive Oriental. “It’s a new territory for us,” said Chris Payne, director of marketing of Giorgio Armani Parfums. “It’s a fresh, woody Oriental — it allows us to recruit a new user.” Payne noted that Armani’s other men’s fragrances feature no Oriental notes — Acqua di Gio includes marine notes, while Mania for Men is more of a crisp scent. Developed by Givaudan, the fragrance features top notes of citrus, lemon and bergamot; middle notes of olive flower and aniseed, and base notes of tonka bean and guaiacum wood. Jack Wiswall, president of the Designer Fragrances Division of L’Oréal USA, is hoping Black Code’s sensual qualities will attract an untapped portion of the men’s market. “It allows us to appeal to the other side of the equation, the customer who maybe isn’t buying Acqua di Gio,” he said. “It’s a commercial fragrance, it’s not controversial.”Payne said the age target is 18 to 49, with a special focus on 25 to 35. While the fragrance launched in Europe this past fall, it will hit all of Armani’s 2,000 U.S. doors in March. Although L’Oréal does not break out sales projections or advertising budgets, industry sources estimate that Black Code could bring in up to $28 million to $30 million in first-year retail sales, with $8 million to $10 million spent on advertising and promotion. By comparison, Acqua did an estimated $75 million last year. That figure represents a 7 to 8 percent growth for 2004 after eight years on the market.Price points will range from $35 for a 30-ml. bottle to $60 for a 75-ml. bottle and will be supported by print advertising and dissemination of scent impressions, including over 50 million scented strips and blow-ins. TV ads, which were developed for the European launch, have not been scheduled for the U.S. market but are being considered.“In the advertising, we’re featuring both a man and a woman for the first time,” said Payne. “The ads capture a story of Armani style and seduction.” Print ads feature a man dressed in a dark suit embracing a nearly bare-backed woman, whose face is almost undetectable, hidden in the man’s shoulder. The ad was photographed by Steven Klein and the male model is Enrique Palacio. Adding the woman creates a new level of selling potential for the fragrance, explained Serge Jureidini, general manager of Giorgio Armani Parfums & Cosmetics U.S.: “Seduction is at the background of all fragrance purchases, and we’re bringing it to the forefront,” he said.Black Code’s sleek, dark lines and blue-black glass were inspired by an Armani tuxedo that actor Denzel Washington wore to the Oscars, according to Payne. Staying with the fragrance’s elegant, nighttime theme, the 75-ml. size will feature a special element: The bottle’s outer packaging will be wrapped in tuxedo shirt material.And, although the bottle design is indeed familiar (look no further than 2004’s Mania), the decision to stay with a recognizable shape was important, explained Wiswall. “It has a signature Armani quality to it,” he said.

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