NEW YORK — There’s been little drama in mass market fragrances the past five years — except tears shed over dismal sales.

ABC Daytime and Wal-Mart hope to rewrite the script for holiday sales this year, with a groundbreaking marriage between Hollywood’s soap opera culture and the most powerful retailer on earth. It also is one of the most outlandish exercises in product placement.

ABC’s blockbuster soap, “All My Children,” watched by 1.4 million weekly viewers, will team up with Wal-Mart to simultaneously launch a fictional and a reality scent. On TV and at Wal-Mart, the fragrance is called Enchantment and sources think it could conjure up first-year sales of $15 million. It could represent the next episode in mass market fragrances.

The debut of Enchantment represents the confluence of several trends. First, there has been a rush to link licensed fragrance introductions with celebrities such as Jennifer Lopez, Britney Spears and Celine Dion. Three stars of the soap will appear in Wal-Mart stores and on in-store merchandising materials.

Then there is the flood of product placements appearing on television that help build instant word of mouth. Oprah gives away Chryslers; the Donald promotes Toys ‘R’ Us. “We think ‘All My Children’ is a natural for fragrances,” said Bruce Gersh, senior vice president of business development at ABC. A fictional cosmetics company has been part of the plot of the soap opera for more than a decade.

The final factor at work is the power of Wal-Mart. By inking an exclusive deal with the nation’s largest and most powerful chain, ABC joins the ranks of other firms using Wal-Mart as a proving ground to establish start-up brands. For Wal-Mart, the exclusive introduction provides shoppers with another reason to select the discounter over the competition. Such proprietary deals are popping up all over the retail landscape, such as BeautyBank’s three launches at Kohl’s or Sonia Kashuk at Target.

But beyond the exclusive angle, succeeding at a respected retail power is the new testing group for manufacturers. Elizabeth Arden turned to Wal-Mart as a test market for its Skin Simple skin care, which, if successful, could eventually roll out to other stores. Coty first launched its color cosmetics, Rimmel, into the U.S. at Wal-Mart. Now it is being extended into 9,000 other retail doors. And Marykateandashley fragrances are now available in other retailers — only after passing sales goals at Wal-Mart.

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