By  on June 10, 1994

NEW YORK -- As store counters grow increasingly crowded, fragrance manufacturers are relying more and more on expensive advertising campaigns to cut through the clutter and get their messages across to the consumer.

To rate this hyperactive field, WWD asked a cross section of key ad agency executives to voice their opinions on who is doing well and who isn't.

Some campaigns, such as Casmir from Parfums Chopard and Escape by Calvin Klein, garnered praise from several commentators. Others, including Estee Lauder's Beautiful, drew a mixed reaction.

But those polled agreed on one point: fragrance advertising could use a healthy dose of originality.

Ed Taussig, creative director at Grey Advertising

"There's only one thing in the whole world that caught my attention -- the Casmir launch in Gourmet Magazine," Taussig said, adding that Lancaster's advertorial offered "a different kind of sensual experience.

"You go through this stuff and keep seeing the same thing over and over again. No one's going to beat Calvin Klein at the nudity thing. He's got that down. There's only a limited amount of body parts anyway."

Notably bad campaigns, in Taussig's estimation, are Gale Hayman's Delicious, which he described as "a bruised woman eating a bruised peach," and Bijan's DNA. "Anything by Bijan is bound to be terrible. He's amazing for his consistency. Does anybody really want his DNA?"

Taussig gave 360 by Perry Ellis "an honorable mention in bad. One of the premiere tenets of fragrance advertising is that it should be aspirational. Not even Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm would want to ride backwards on a cow on the beach."

The ads for Elizabeth Taylor's White Diamonds and Fragrant Jewels are "the ultimate in vulgarity," Taussig said, but he said they work for their audience. "It's horrifying, but it's dead on."

Since so much fragrance advertising depends on sex and fantasy, Taussig said the execution of the concept is often what sets an ad apart. "The Calvin Klein Escape ad is just a couple on a beach until it's shot by someone who knows what they're doing."

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