By  on March 25, 2005

NEW YORK — The image of Ermenegildo Zegna’s new Z Zegna scent is about to get a whole lot sportier — thanks to a promotional twist by licensee YSL Beauté that involves the National Basketball Association and motorcycle maker Ducati.

The French firm’s U.S. branch has joined forces with four NBA teams — the Los Angeles Lakers, Chicago Bulls, Detroit Pistons and New Jersey Nets — to spotlight Z Zegna prior to and during six basketball games.

The wide-ranging campaign, which broke this week with TV and radio spots in Chicago, will feature everything from Z Zegna samples by the arena-full, to at least two giveaways of Ducati Monster motorcycles — one in Chicago on April 9 and one in New Jersey eight days later.

At a cost estimated by industry sources of less than $1 million, YSL Beauté Inc. here is banking on millions of Z Zegna impressions, a scent that’s now being rolled out to about 900 department store doors in the U.S.

The TV and radio spots in Chicago will reach 1.6 million people and mention Marshall Field’s, where eight tickets to Bulls games will be given away. On game night April 9, an estimated 18,000 fans entering the gates each will be given a scented card that features the visual for Z Zegna — a picture of model Guillaume Gabriel on a Ducati motorcycle. Also on the card is a raffle stub for the halftime Ducati giveaway.

While YSL Beauté thought tying Z Zegna in with Ducati “would be a great way to reach our customer,” said Maggie Ciafardini, chief executive officer and managing director of YSL Beauté Inc., aligning the brand with the NBA teams was a way to garner new customers by pursuing them in new, unusual venues.

Two nights prior to the Chicago Bulls game, the first of three Lakers games will take place. There, scented cards displaying the Robinsons-May nameplate will be handed out and the arena’s video screen will display Z Zegna. Over the course of the three games, on April 7, 15 and 17, attendance is expected to reach 66,000.

On game night in New Jersey April 17, the Nets’ mascot will call out a ticket number, determining the winner of the second Ducati. The Macy’s nameplate will be displayed in conjunction with Z Zegna on the arena’s four-sided video board. About two weeks prior to the game, TV and radio spots will air, reaching an estimated 2.5 million people. Also, two Ducatis will be placed in the men’s fragrance area of Macy’s Herald Square, where tickets to Nets games will be given away.YSL Beauté has a total of 10 of the motorcycles. A third will be given away to a Z Zegna sales associate as part of an incentive program, and the other seven are on loan from Ducati for display purposes at locations including Bloomingdale’s on 59th Street and  Marshall Field’s at Water Tower Place in Chicago.

Plans also could include the giveaway of one of the Ducatis at the Detroit Pistons game on April 17, when Z Zegna products will be raffled off and samples will be distributed to about 20,000 Pistons fans. Prior to the game, a total of 66 TV spots will be broadcast on two local stations, with about half of them tagging Marshall Field’s, where Pistons tickets will be given away in-store. The TV ads, combined with radio spots, are expected to reach a combined 3.5 million people.

Ciafardini noted the NBA games will coincide with visual weeks for Z Zegna at the three chains. “When challenged to grow,” she said, “you can’t wait for [customers] to come into [the department store], you have to go out and get them.”

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