NEW YORK — Come this fall, Clarins hopes that Lacoste’s famous reptile will snap up business at men’s fragrance counters.

"Lacoste Pour Homme is a fresh, classic scent with a twist —and it is a new franchise which won’t cannibalize our existing fragrance lines," noted Joseph Horowitz, president and chief executive officer of Groupe Clarins. "We feel that this is a perfect time to launch this fragrance, given the resurgence in popularity that the Lacoste fashion line is experiencing."

Clarins markets its products under three divisions: the Clarins branded products, which include skin care and color cosmetics; Thierry Mugler fragrances, and the Clarins Fragrance Group, which includes Hugo Boss, Azzaro and now Lacoste.

"The target user is a gentleman, no matter what his age," said Brad Horowitz, vice president of marketing for the Clarins Fragrance Group. "Whether he’s in the 15-to-25-year-old age group —?which is a group that we think will love this scent and a group that retailers are trying to draw in-store —?or older, he has style and panache and is distinctly masculine."

The juice, by Claude Dir of Quest International, has top notes of ruby grapefruit, plum and apple; a heart of juniper, cardamon, pink peppercorn and cinnamon and a dry-down of Jamaican rum, sandalwood, cedarwood, vanilla and musk. "It’s a fresh, classic, long-lasting scent," said Michele de Bourbon, director of marketing, adding that the bottle, a smoke-gray tinted glass rectangle with a textured silver cap topped by the signature Lacoste crocodile, was designed by Thierry de Baschmakoff.

The collection includes a 1.6-oz. eau de toilette spray, $39; a 3.3-oz. eau de toilette spray, $53; a 2.5-oz. aftershave balm, $26; a 2.4-oz. deodorant stick, $15, and a 5-oz. shower gel, $20.

While a handful of stores —?about 128, including Bloomingdale’s, Marshall Field’s and Filene’s —?will roll the scent out in mid-October, the majority of doors —?an additional 1,600 — will unveil it on Dec. 26. Joseph Horowitz noted that Clarins began utilizing the post-holiday rollout strategy last year with Hugo Boss Deep Red "to great success —?so we decided to capitalize on the strong post-holiday traffic by making use of that strategy with this scent." By next spring, the scent will be in about 2,000 doors total, said Joseph Horowitz.None of the executives would comment on the scent’s projected first-year sales or advertising budget, but industry sources estimated that the fragrance would do upward of $25 million at retail in its first year on counter and that about $10 million would be spent on advertising and promotion.

The advertising campaign, featuring Australian model Ian Lawless, was shot by Herb Ritts. The black-and-white shot depicts Lawless in nothing but his birthday suit, with the tag line, "Style on Skin." The ads, which will be in selected men’s and women’s magazines, will begin appearing in January 2003 titles.

Unusual marketing methods will also be part of the mix. In 10 to 15 key markets — including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Atlanta —?these tactics will include SUVs with the "fragrance police" inside and hauling around a 25-foot crocodile balloon on a flatbed truck to raise awareness.

"The purpose behind it is to provide a steady pulse of activity which will build on consumer awareness of Lacoste as a fashion brand, making consumers aware that there is now a fragrance," said Brad Horowitz.

In all markets, traditional methods of getting the word out, like sampling, will be a key part of the campaign. Brad Horowitz noted that the national advertising campaign will get at least 10 million scented impressions into the hands of consumers, with blow-ins, scented enclosures and post-holiday retailer catalogs providing another 10 million to 15 million scented impressions. In store, sales associates will hand out upward of one million vials on cards as well, he said.

And the crocodile reportedly won’t be alone for long: Sources say a women’s scent will join the family sometime next year.

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