NEW YORK — Unilever is getting back in Competition this March with its Nautica fragrance of the same name.

While Nautica’s activewear apparel brand, Competition — first launched in 1996 — did have a men’s scent of that name under the former fragrance license holder, Paul Sebastian, it was discontinued after Unilever Prestige acquired the fragrance license in 1999. The fragrance coming this spring from Unilever Prestige bears no relation to the first juice, noted Laura Lee Miller, president of Unilever Prestige.

"We felt that the Competition trademark and brand equity for fragrance were very valuable to us, particularly considering what a popular apparel brand Nautica — and its Competition name — is among male consumers," said Miller. "So we decided to refocus the Competition fragrance business. With its youthful attitude and sports focus, it’s exactly right for today’s market."

Added David Chu, vice chairman and chief creative officer of Nautica Enterprises Inc.: "Nautica Competition fragrance embodies the modern, classic spirit of Nautica while adding a new, youthful energy. It’s designed especially for guys who are active, sporty and always pushing themselves to the next level. It is immediately recognizable and understandable. There are clear synergies between the Competition clothing line and the new fragrance. Both are athletic in feel, sleek, modern and functional. We wanted both to be easy to use, easy to wear."

While Miller hopes the fragrance will have broad appeal, the key target is 18- to 35-year-olds, with a special emphasis on 18- to 24-year-olds, she noted. "This age group is exactly who Nautica would like to bring into stores —?as would department stores," she noted. "It’s a great synergy for us?because it’s a consumer we want to go after, too. College-age students have in excess of $78 billion to spend annually. And we think that the Competition positioning makes a lot of sense. Young men consider competition to be a part of what they live every day, and it’s an easily recognized concept for them. Also, they are sports enthusiasts on every level."

Unilever Prestige’s Nautica fragrance lineup currently includes one other scent, Latitude Longitude. "We think Competition will draw in a new consumer, attracting a new audience without cannibalizing existing business," said Miller. Latitude Longitude’s key user is 25 to 45 years old, she noted.The fragrance, by Creations Aromatique, has top notes —?or, as Miller says, a "tip off" — of bergamot and juniper berry; middle notes (or "the pass") of rosemary and nutmeg, and a dry-down (or "final score") of sandalwood and white amber. As well, running throughout all accords is a note exclusive to this juice called Teton Air, a crisp air fougere. "This note gives the scent a cool, clean sensation that brings out the best in all of the other notes — or players," said Kellie Como, vice president of fragrance development for Unilever Prestige.

The fragrance is packaged in matte yellow rubberized glass with accents of black and metallic silver. The collection consists of an eau de toilette spray in two sizes, 2.5 and 4.2 ounces, retailing for $35 and $46, respectively; a 5-oz. aftershave balm with aloe vera, panthenol and vitamins A, C and E, $28; a 5-oz. body wash, $12.5; a 10-oz. soap-on-a-rope with sea salt and olive oil, $12.50, and a 2.6-oz. alcohol-free, quick-dry deodorant, $12.50.

The fragrance will launch in about 2,200 U.S. department and specialty store doors in March, as well as an additional 500 doors in Canada and 250 doors on U.S. military bases. While none of the executives would discuss sales projections, industry sources estimated that the Competition fragrance lineup could do $20 million to $25 million at retail in its first year on counter. Sources also estimated that the brand would spend about $12 million on advertising and promotion in that time.

A number of promotional and sampling efforts are planned to drive awareness of the brand. In addition to print advertising in national magazines, which breaks in April books — including Vibe, Maxim and Stuff — the brand will unleash a number of sampling efforts. They include more than 25 million scented impressions —?including blow-ins, scented cards and about five million spray vials on cards — and two gifts-with-purchase. The fragrance will launch with a gwp: an indoor-outdoor basketball bearing the Competition logo.

"It’s a winning shot," said Miller with a laugh. "And it drives home what the brand is all about." A Father’s Day gwp —?a gym bag with the Competition logo —?is also planned, she added.And, noted Gina Paterno, vice president of global marketing for Unilever Prestige, outside marketing efforts will launch in March in an effort to drive young men into stores. A Nautica Competition-branded basketball tournament on 50 college campuses will be tied to the annual NCAA March Madness tournament and is intended to bounce consumers back to department stores in each locale. As well, scented pieces will be placed in basketball championship programs during this time frame, she noted.

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