By and  on August 24, 2007

MILAN — Diesel is using the Internet to catapult itself into the fragrance business.

Along with its licensee, the L'Oréal Luxury Products Division of L'Oréal, the northern Italian jeans and lifestyle brand has embarked on an aggressive and innovative launch campaign for its first masterbrand of scents, called Fuel For Life For Her and Fuel For Life For Him, which will release globally on Monday.

Both companies have masterminded a prelaunch momentum strategy. Spearheading the lead-up to the on-shelf date, a guerilla and viral Internet marketing campaign broke on Aug. 9 to cultivate interest on the new fragrances and their names. The campaign has also reached 50 independent blog sites.

As a teaser to the launch, L'Oréal created an antimarketing campaign, consisting of a fake activist organization on the Internet, exhorting viewers to join a movement opposing legalization of what cryptically is referred to as "Fuel for Life." On Monday, when the fragrances are launched and the mock battle is lost, all the signed-up members will be redirected to the Diesel Web site, which will morph into an e-commerce proposition for the U.S. only.

The companies will go to equal lengths in the advertising campaign. Six TV spots, featuring different models, are slated to run nationally on cable channels and eight different print ads — four for the women's and four for the men's scents — will appear in about 30 magazines. The driving theme is the key question, "Are You Alive?" L'Oréal executives estimate that 350 million to 400 million impressions will be made in the U.S. between the print and TV advertising. That is in addition to about 15 billboards displaying the ads in the U.S. The print ads were shot by Nick Knight and the TV spots were directed by Laurence Dunmore.

L'Oréal does not break out sales or advertising projections, but industry sources estimate that the company will spend nearly $20 million in the U.S. alone for advertising and promotion.

"For us, this is the launch of a new partnership and there's massive support behind it because it's the first stepping stone for building a significant and meaningful fragrance business under the Diesel umbrella," said Serge Jureidini, president of L'Oréal's Designer Fragrance Division in the U.S. "This is just our first step in a major initiative and our ambition for the brand is huge."The unusual degree of the effort perhaps reflects how much is at stake for both Diesel and L'Oréal. In an interview with WWD at Diesel's headquarters in Molvena, Italy, Renzo Rosso, founder and president of Diesel, said diversifying into fragrance was a natural and obligatory step for the company, which he founded in 1978.

"Our moment has arrived, now that the brand's status has grown so much, a fragrance license is a necessity, to highlight and show what the brand is today," said Rosso, dressed in a pair of black denim jeans, T-shirt and sandals.

Rosso said the new scents were aimed to channel Diesel's lifestyle and enhance the brand. "Everything inside the scents is a condensation of who we are: fresh, ironic, innovative, always wanting to do something different. They transmit our energy," said Rosso.

Though Rosso refused to name a first-year sales figure for the masterbrand scent project, industry sources said that figure could hit 60 million euros globally, or more than $81 million at current exchange. That includes the U.S., where industry sources estimate L'Oréal could be shooting for a six-month goal of $35 million in retail sales.

Rosso said the company was aiming to build its fragrance business to represent 35 percent of Diesel's turnover. "All together we are working to position this brand as one of the top 10 players in the fragrance world," said Rosso.

Fuel For Life For Her and Fuel For Life For Him will eventually be rolled out to 18,000 doors in 25 countries by mid-2008. Diesel's denim DNA was also tapped for the scents' packaging. The fragrances' slender oval-shaped flacons are dressed in diverse covers. The Fuel For Life For Her bottle is wrapped in a fishnet ivory stocking; its male counterpart is in a tan canvas slip-jacket, with a side zip, stitching and leather tab. Fabien Baron designed both Fuel For Life's flacons and packaging.

"The packaging is true innovation because it encapsulates this vintage lifestyle brand, it translates the idea of jeans into the packaging," said Ladan Lari, Diesel Fragrances International Managing Director, part of the L'Oréal Luxury Products Division.

Lari added that 20,000 Fuel For Life bottles would be allocated for customization on Diesel's Web site beginning Monday. Customers in the U.S., Europe and Canada will be able to order from 8,000 possible combinations of pouch fabric and color, flacon caps and logos."We wanted to nourish the future to give the consumer a chance to customize the product and get something individual — which is emblematic of Diesel," said Lari.

In addition to the scents' particular packaging, Rosso designed two separate bronze and gold pocket chains that hold 15-ml. Fuel For Life vials, to be sold alongside the scents for $95. "It's very Diesel," pronounced Rosso, who hooked it onto his jeans and showed how the device twisted open to reveal the miniflacon. The perfume accessories will be launched separately in mid-October.

Firmenich developed both scents. Fuel For Life For Her was created by Annick Menardo and Thierry Vasseur and is a chypre-floral, with top notes of mandarin and pink pepper, heart notes of blackcurrant and jasmine and patchouli and musk at the base of the olfactory pyramid.

Fuel For Life For Him belongs to the fougere-powdery scent family. Noses Annick Menardo and Jacques Cavallier created the For Him scent, which has top notes of anise and grapefruit, middle notes of raspberry and lavender and base notes of heliotrope and dry woods.

Price points for Fuel For Life For Him will range from $44.50 for a 50-ml. eau de toilette spray to $59.50 for the 75-ml. size. Fuel For Life For Her ranges from $49.50 for the 50-ml. edt to $64.50 for the 75-ml. version. Both scents will have a luxury 75-ml. bottle dubbed "Bling Bling" — decorated with jewelry — that will retail for $95.

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