NEW YORK — Launching a new scent is nothing new for Tova Borgnine. In her more than 25 years in the fragrance business, she’s unveiled five major scents and countless other beauty items. Sold via QVC, each has been a success and built upon her following.
But her latest, which will debut in November, also on QVC, is one of her most personal stories. Called Tova Ambre D’Oro, it reflects her love of Italy and is a markedly different scent than her best-known Signature. “I love Italy and have traveled there with Ernie [her husband, Ernest Borgnine] where his films are very popular. And my grandfather was from Italy. I wanted to capture the beauty of Italy in a fragrance,” said Borgnine over a recent lunch.
She especially wanted to convey the nuances of Italy from the food and wine, to the art and architecture. “She really wanted to come up with something that conveyed everlasting love. She had never lost her fondness for Italy and came to us to find what we could do with an Italian theme,” recalled Steve Raphel, president of Belmay Inc., the firm behind the juice. The emotional link is expected to help launch the scent — especially since there’s no way to smell the fragrance over the airwaves.
While many of Borgnine’s scents are light florals, Ambre D’Oro is more of a musky-floral with notes endemic to Italy such as Sicilian lemon and a key accord, peony peregrina. “It is a terrific story — using material indigenous to Italy,” Raphel added. When Belmay presented the various suggested scents, executives played Italian music and served Italian pastries to set the mood. The choice was unanimous and Ambre D’Oro was created.
The 1.7-oz. eau de parfum will be launched on air in November priced at $36 and Borgnine expects it will appeal to both current users of her stable of scents while also attracting some new fans. In addition to being a very different fragrance, the bottle is a variation for Borgnine, too: There are floral etchings creating a more romantic appearance than some of her other fragrances.
She thinks the new fragrance can take its spot among her top movers. Borgnine now has Signature, Body Mind and Spirit, Tova Nights and Love Everlasting. She also has served up flankers such as Signature Summer. The timing couldn’t be better with QVC recently signing on to the Italian market for its debut in October 2010. Also, Borgnine thinks at-home shopping plays a key role in today’s economy as people want to drive less. “QVC is a good choice for those who don’t want to have to drive and use gas,” she explained. She said the economy has not sapped her success. “We have a very loyal customer base for Tova fragrances, especially Signature,” she said.
This year marks her 17th on the home shopping network, and it is being celebrated with yearlong promotions, including one that moved more than 31,000 units in one day from three one-hour appearances, according to QVC. In total, she’s been in the business for 25 years.
Borgnine never wavered in her belief she could sell her juice over the airwaves. She convinced QVC to give her a test on air in 1991 and she peddled $134,000 worth in her first show. Tova Signature remains one of the bestsellers on QVC with sales exceeding eight million bottles.
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