By  on May 25, 2007

NEW YORK — Antonio Banderas is ready to get flirty.Puig Beauty USA is launching its fourth Banderas juice in America, a concept scent designed to lure younger users. Called Blue Seduction for men, the fragrance is positioned to show Banderas' more flirty and playful side."Blue Seduction is a contemporary, stylish and masculine fragrance that reflects a part of my personality and that of my culture," said Banderas in a statement. He added that this is the latest scent in his partnership with Puig, a relationship that has netted Puig and Banderas several FiFi awards.This is the first Puig-Banderas launch to bow in the United States before international distribution. Blue Seduction will be exclusive to Walgreens in July with a U.S. rollout to 35,000 doors the following month. Vince Colonna, president of Puig Beauty USA, said retailers are clicking with the concept and initial tests of the scent have been strong. He expects Blue Seduction will be at the top of Puig's American fragrance sales. That's a heavy order given that the other three launches earned spots among the top-selling fragrances in their debut year. Industry sources expect the latest will fetch at least $30 million in retail sales in its first year.One weapon in the arsenal is the fact that the positioning of Blue Seduction should help attract users in the 25- to 35-year-old range, according to Segundo Broggi, product manager. The other two men's lines, Spirit Antonio Banderas and Antonio by Antonio Banderas skew slightly older. Plans call for Blue Seduction to build users rather than cannibalize from existing sales. "We want to get the users growing out of products such as Axe," said Colonna, who added that young men are a ripe audience for scents and that more men are buying for themselves. The men's fragrance category is on a growth track with sales rising 3.3 percent to $146.7 million in 2006, according to ACNielsen (excluding Wal-Mart). Blue Seduction will face competition as Coty Inc. beefs up its David Beckham fragrance franchise, but few other major players are targeting the mass market sector of the business. Noting that other companies have adopted a blue concept, Vanita Sabnani, vice president of marketing, said this interpretation wasn't necessarily inspired by the sea, but rather an urban scene. The bottom of the bottle, she explained, has a mosaic quality reminiscent of a stylish swimming pool. The juice is colored a calming blue and features an interesting concoction of everything from mint and melon to oakmoss and cappuccino.Blue Seduction will be priced in line with the existing Banderas lineup with a 1-oz. eau de toilette spray priced at $21.50 and a 1.7-oz. EDT at $30. There will be holiday gift sets later this year. Traffic-stopping, in-store displays with testers are also part of the campaign to launch Blue Seduction. Banderas' image appears on one side of the box, a strategy used successfully with the Antonio by Antonio Banderas scent. A fresh new approach to advertising Banderas will bow with a commercial directed by Jean Claude Thibault, in which Banderas and an actress flirt and play with the bottle. Spending behind Blue Seduction is estimated to exceed $12 million. Scented strips will be used to entice shoppers and there will be a Web site behind the fragrance. Puig executives don't fret over any decline in celebrity scent sales, claiming the franchise transcends the trend. "And, Antonio continues to score high with consumers," said Colonna. In fact, plans call for even more Banderas scents, perhaps even a woman's launch based on Blue Seduction. The franchise could potentially expand into other grooming areas, including skin care. The company is testing the waters. "Our gift sets have a shower gel and deodorant stick," added Broggi. Banderas is currently getting plenty of television time, as he promotes his role in "Shrek the Third." There is also talk that he might return to Broadway next year.

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