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Polo Sport’s $13M Game Plan

NEW YORK -- Polo Sport is poised to take advantage of a year of big international sporting events -- from the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, to the World Cup in soccer in the U.S. -- with an advertising campaign full of bronzed, muscled...

NEW YORK — Polo Sport is poised to take advantage of a year of big international sporting events — from the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, to the World Cup in soccer in the U.S. — with an advertising campaign full of bronzed, muscled athletes.

The division of Cosmair unveiled its advertising strategy for the new men’s fragrance and skin fitness line this week, and the backbone of the roughly $13 million ad campaign is a $5 million to $6 million TV effort, according to Camille McDonald, vice president of marketing.

The 30-second TV commercial will air in 54 markets, almost double the 30 markets that televised the Safari for Men commercial in 1992.

The commercial premiered last week in several Southern and New England markets. Additional week-long flights will continue through February and March to coincide with Polo Sport’s launch in 1,400 doors. Lauren will do a follow-up hit in nine markets in April and in 27 markets for Father’s Day in June.

Directed by Bruce Weber, the spot features a fast cut of exuberant athletes — diving, swimming, skiing, etc. — interspersed with a couple of product shots.

Although it will not air on Olympic broadcasts, the campaign is breaking in most markets around the time of the Olympics, which begin Feb. 12, and it plays up the red, white and blue theme of the products’ packaging.

“Our advertising needs to be fun, to be very visually exciting,” McDonald said.

Jack Wiswall, senior vice president and general manager, said TV is an important part of the campaign because Polo Sport “crosses over all demographics. We think it has very wide-ranging appeal.”

McDonald added that Polo Sport draw men who like to fancy themselves athletes even if they’re not.

With Polo Sport, Lauren is attempting to ease more men into prestige skin care with its 10-item Water Basics line. The problem-solution line features, for example, a 2-in-1 shampoo and body cleanser convenient for the gym, and the products are easily portable.

McDonald noted, however, that the company has been careful to use the term “skin fitness” instead of “treatment,” a word that can turn men off.

While ancillary products typically account for 10 to 15 percent of men’s fragrance sales, McDonald said Lauren is projecting Water Basics will do 25 percent of Polo Sport’s business. She said initial reaction in Lauren’s Polo Sport store, where the scent was launched in the fall, has pushed Water Basics’ share to about 30 percent. Sources have estimated Polo Sport will hit $65 million in retail sales this year.

To communicate the fact that Polo Sport is a both a fragrance and a body line, McDonald said the company will run 40 million to 50 million scented strips from February through December.

On the front of the full-page scented strip is an Irving Penn photo of the cobalt blue fragrance bottle under the headline “The Fitness Fragrance by Ralph Lauren.” On the back is a Penn photo of the Close Shave Foam and the Face and Body Sports Cream with the headline “The Skin Fitness Collection by Ralph Lauren.”

The print campaign, which McDonald said will cost a total of about $6.5 million, also will include seven-page ad sections featuring the product shots; Weber photos of a Laurenesque gentleman-sailor, the torso of a man after a workout, a montage of athletes, and, unusual for the company, a page of text describing the philosophy of the line.

“It’s Olympian and heroic, but it’s also in your backyard,” McDonald said.

In addition, Lauren will run gatefolds, three-page ads and two-page spreads in Allure, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, Self, Vanity Fair, New York Times Magazine, GQ, Esquire, Men’s Health, Outside, Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit edition and various regional magazines.

With magazines such as Details, Seventeen and Rolling Stone, McDonald said, “We’re going younger than we normally do.”

The campaign will use $1 million of newspaper co-op ads, and the company will distribute 7 million towlettes, vials and other samples of Polo Sport.

In stores where Polo Sport will be available at self-service units in addition to the men’s fragrance bar, Lauren is planning a series of appearances by members of local sports teams, including the Houston Rockets basketball team and the Colorado Rockies baseball team.