SAINT PAUL DE VENCE, FRANCE — David Beckham has made a career out of shooting for goals. Now, the soccer player and Coty Inc. believe he will naturally be on target with his debut fragrance, Instinct.
Known as much for his penchant for luxury labels and high-profile marriage as for his prowess on the pitch, Beckham is among the latest entrants into Coty’s star-spangled scent portfolio. The beauty powerhouse, which creates fragrances for Jennifer Lopez, Celine Dion and Sarah Jessica Parker, among other celebrities, also recently snapped up Unilever’s designer fragrance portfolio, which includes the Calvin Klein, Vera Wang, Chloe, Lagerfeld and Cerruti beauty licenses.
Instinct is the first building block in what is eventually to become the Beckham Beauty House, a brand that will encompass men’s grooming products, plus his-and-her fragrances.
Beckham and his other half, former Spice Girl Victoria (aka Posh Spice), proved to be real team players when it came to building their joint beauty business alongside Coty’s creative squad.
“For me, [the project] had to be exciting, and I had to be involved,” said Beckham, while attending a launch event held mid-June in a villa outside the idyllic French Riviera town of Saint Paul de Vence.
“Coty really allowed us to have a lot of creative input,” added his wife, who will work with Coty on a female fragrance.
For Bernd Beetz, Coty’s chief executive officer, the pair’s involvement was integral to the project’s success.
“Perfumery is a very, very demanding category in terms of consumer expectations. They want the celebrity’s personality to really be seen and echoed in the product,” he said.
Beetz added the choice of star is key to creating a long-term brand.
“David Beckham is the most accomplished and complete athlete I can think of,” he said, noting the soccer player is also a modern style icon. “He is a complete star and inspires a lot of people.”
While Beckham’s draw outside of his rabid European fan base — namely, the U.S. market — remains to be seen, executives said his across-the-board appeal was key to cinching the Coty deal.
This story first appeared in the July 1, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“It’s part of Coty’s strategy to broaden its fragrance portfolio and reach new segments of the market,” said Steve Mormoris, senior vice president, international marketing, at Coty Beauty Europe. “It’s clear that the Beckham brand is a way in which we can reach new consumers on a global level who are looking for fragrance experiences not yet offered by the current classic fashion houses.
“David Beckham appeals to a broad range of cultural groups and all races — black, white and Asian,” he continued.
Beckham’s draw in Asia is of particular interest to Coty, said Beetz.
“His strength in Asia is an additional motivation for us because we as a company are not as strong as we want to be there,” he said, adding Beckham will be key to Coty’s acceleration in the region.
Mormoris believes the Beckham launch likely will draw a raft of new consumers to the men’s fragrance category and ultimately to grooming products, which could be introduced within a year of the Instinct launch.
Coty executives declined to discuss sales forecasts for Instinct. However, industry sources estimate the fragrance will generate first-year global retail sales of $40 million to $50 million.
Beckham himself is a beauty aficionado and counts manicures and pedicures among his regular routine. He also habitually uses face creams and lip balm.
“And, before I go to sleep, I slap on some eye cream,” he said.
Before creating his first fragrance with a classic tack, Beckham had sported eaux by Loewe and Creed.
“I didn’t want something that looked sporty,” he said. “I wanted something classy, personal and very classic.”
Designer Lutz Herrmann — along with Beckham — came up with a vertical glass bottle, which is topped with a magnetic metal cap that snaps shut. A diamond-shaped impression is cut into the base of the flacon, while a black label carries the scent’s name and Beckham logo. Herrmann created the insignia, which includes the letters D, V and B (for David, Victoria and Beckham), inspired by Gothic typography and tattoo art. The logo is meant to be a family crest of sorts — a fitting touch for the clan whose home has been dubbed “Beckingham Palace” by the British press.
Advertising for Instinct is bereft of direct sporting references, as well. However, the television spot was inspired by Beckham’s steely focus when he took a penalty kick that helped England qualify for the 2002 World Cup. Directed by Robin Harvey of the JWT agency, the ad shows Beckham walking in a desert-like location where clouds gather and a storm violently breaks. But by what is meant to be the strength of his will, Beckham manages to appease the tempest and restore calm. Ten-, 20- and 30-second versions of the spot will break in September.
Print ads — in single and double pages — feature Beckham against a menacing skyscape, plus a packshot and an array of words, including faith, calm, truth, control, peace, fury, tempest, defy and storm, in ghostly writing. The visuals were shot by Annie Leibovitz.
A sampling campaign, comprising vials and sachets, will back the launch, too.
Instinct’s feugere juice was concocted by International Flavors and Fragrances’ Alain Astori and Beatrice Piquet. Its top notes include Italian bergamot, orange and mandarin. At its heart are star anise, cardamom and red pimento notes. And the scent’s drydown features Haitian vetiver, patchouli and white amber notes.
The eau de toilette will be available as 30-, 50- and 75-ml. sprays. While not yet confirmed, the scent is expected to range in price from about 17 euros, or $20.50 at current exchange, for the smallest bottle, to 39 euros, or $47, for the largest size. These estimated prices are for Europe. The ancillary line includes 50- and 75-ml. aftershave lotions, a 50-ml. moisturizer, a 100-ml. face wash, a 200-ml. hair and body wash, a 75-g. stick deodorant and a 150-ml. deodorant spray.
The Instinct collection will bow in mainland Europe in September. Asia is set to get the line for the holidays and the U.S. in the first half of 2006.