An ad visual for Lacoste Essential.

<STRONG>Lacoste Essential: Relaxed and Free</STRONG><BR>PARIS — Lacoste is going back to basics with its latest fragrance.<BR><BR>Lacoste Essential — as the men's scent is called — will be introduced starting in August by La Chemise...

Lacoste Essential: Relaxed and Free
PARIS — Lacoste is going back to basics with its latest fragrance.

Lacoste Essential — as the men’s scent is called — will be introduced starting in August by La Chemise Lacoste’s beauty license holder, Procter & Gamble Prestige Beaute.

The product channels the relaxed chic of a Lacoste polo shirt, said Gerd Finke, a global marketing director for prestige products at P&G Prestige Beaute.

“We’re now at the heart and soul of the brand and are paying tribute to its founder, Rene Lacoste,” Finke said, adding the launch opens the new “freedom” segment for the label. “Lacoste Essential is all about freedom, enjoyment and relaxation — not just specifically relaxation and enjoyment as regards activities, but also freedom of mind.”

The brand’s portfolio has been bolstered by a number of launches since P&G took over the Lacoste license in 2001. In 2002, P&G introduced Lacoste Pour Homme, a scent that kicked off its high-end “Club” segment. That was followed by Lacoste Pour Femme in 2003. One year later the brand focused on more “energetic” scents — coming out with a signature men’s fragrance and Touch of Pink for women.

P&G executives declined to comment on forecasts. However, industry sources estimate Lacoste Essential could drum up $50 million in wholesale volume in its first year.

The fragrance’s heavy glass bottle, created by Qu’On Se Le Dise agency, is rounded on one side and a curved square on the other to evoke a tennis ball. Lacoste’s signature crocodile is cut into the back of the bottle, so it can be seen from the front, above the scent’s name.

“The fragrance is the crocodile, and the crocodile is the fragrance,” said Finke. A brushed aluminum cap tops its flacon.

Essential’s outer packaging also sports a crocodile logo and is green, the signature color of the brand’s logo.

The fragrance’s juice, concocted by P&G Beaute’s in-house creative team in association with International Flavors & Fragrances, comprises top notes of tomato leaves, plus citrus, fruity and watery notes. The scent’s heart is made of black pepper and a floral accord, including rose notes, inspired — according to Lacoste executives — by the fact that men don’t hesitate to sport the brand’s polo shirts in traditionally feminine colors, like pink. Sandalwood and patchouli notes are in the fragrance’s drydown.

This story first appeared in the June 28, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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P&G used its proprietary “Time-Release Technology,” which allows the juice to maintain its initial freshness throughout the day. The wearer needs only to rub the skin where the scent is sprayed on in order to break molecules that then release the aroma of its top notes. Essential is the first fragrance to use the technology on a worldwide scale, although it has already been used in a Laura Biagiotti scent, said Finke.

The Essential eau de toilette will be available as 75- and 125-ml. sprays that will retail in the U.S. for $40 and $54, respectively. A sampling campaign, which will include vials, is to accompany the global launch starting late August. The U.S., however, will not get the fragrance until the first quarter of 2006.

The fragrance’s advertising campaign is meant to channel the juice’s easygoing aura. Conceived by the Callegari Berville Grey agency and directed by Carter Smith, the television ad shows model Axel Hermann in a seaside location. He leaps from mooring post to mooring post, playfully avoiding incoming waves. The print ad, which will run as single and double pages, was shot by Christophe Kutner and pictures Hermann in mid-leap.
— Brid Costello

Walgreen Net Rises 20.1%
NEW YORK — Walgreen Co. reported a 20.1 percent rise in third-quarter earnings — easily beating analysts’ estimates — because of solid pharmacy prescription sales.

The national drugstore chain earned $411 million, or 40 cents a diluted share, for the period ended May 31, compared with $342.3 million, or 33 cents, in the third quarter last year.

Excluding a $6.6 million gain, the company said it would have earned $406.9 million, or 40 cents, against Wall Street’s expectations for earnings per share of 38 cents. Comparatively, Walgreen earned $340.4 million, or 33 cents, in last year’s third quarter, excluding a $3 million gain from litigation settlements.

Sales in the third quarter rose 13.1 percent to $10.83 billion from $9.58 billion last year.

In the first nine months of the year, Deerfield, Ill.-based Walgreen reported a 20 percent increase in income to $1.23 billion, or $1.20 a share, from $1.03 billion, or 99 cents, in the comparable year-ago period. Sales rose 12.9 percent to $31.71 billion from $28.08 billion.

“We had another terrific quarter with improved gross margins and higher than expected prescription numbers and non-pharmacy sales,” David Bernauer, chairman and chief executive officer, said in a statement. Prescription sales, which rose 14 percent, made up 65 percent of total sales in the third quarter.
— Meredith Derby

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