By  on January 14, 1994

NEW YORK -- When the high-decibel 1991 U.S. launch of its men's fragrance Egoiste fizzled in less than a year, Chanel had to decide whether to write off the estimated $9 million it had spent promoting the brand or try to cash in on the hype it had created.

The result: the ego trip continues, this time with Egoiste Platinum, a new men's scent that will be launched in mid-March.

It is, says Arie Kopelman, Chanel president, a dual effort to recoup the company's investment in the brand and to develop its somewhat lackluster men's fragrance business.

Jean Hoehn Zimmerman, senior vice president of marketing and sales, said Platinum, backed by a $5 million ad campaign, is expected to double Chanel's men's fragrance business in the U.S. in a year.

In addition to Egoiste, the company's men's stable includes Antaeus, Pour Monsieur and Bois Noir.

Although Zimmerman declined to discuss sales figures, industry sources estimate that Platinum could have a first-year volume of about $6 million at wholesale, or roughly what Chanel's men's scents account for now.

During its launch year, Egoiste reportedly had a first-year volume of some $7 million, but that fell to $2.5 million for 1993, according to industry estimates.

Although he acknowledged the name Egoiste has "an edge to it" that requires more explanation in the U.S. than it does in Europe, Kopelman said, "For the money we invested in it, it seemed the name had some potential. We weren't willing to walk away from the brand name."

The original Egoiste set a record for a men's fragrance launch at Bloomingdale's -- more than $150,000 in the first week -- but it has not lived up to Chanel executives' expectations that it would be a top five brand.

Kopelman laid almost all of the blame for Egoiste's poor sales on the juice, which he called "too sophisticated" for the American market. Egoiste is a spicy scent with notes of cinnamon and vanilla.

In a bid for broader appeal to American tastes, Chanel, which develops its fragrances in-house, created a fougere-fresh scent for Platinum, using notes of lavender, geranium and tree moss.

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