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Critical Mass: Banderas Has Spirit for Women’s Scent

NEW YORK — Women adore Antonio Banderas. Now America will find out if they want to wear a scent bearing his name.

Fresh from victory for Spirit Antonio Banderas for Men at last week’s Fragrance Foundation’s FiFi Awards, PUIG...

NEW YORK — Women adore Antonio Banderas. Now America will find out if they want to wear a scent bearing his name.

Fresh from victory for Spirit Antonio Banderas for Men at last week’s Fragrance Foundation’s FiFi Awards, PUIG Fragrances and Personal Care North America is rolling out a female companion. “I’ve fully invested myself in this partnership with PUIG and I’m thrilled to be introducing my second fragrance in the U.S.,” Antonio Banderas said in a statement.

Spirit Antonio Banderas for Men took honors for Men’s Fragrance of the Year in popular appeal as well as best packaging in the mass category. The scent ranked in the top 10 of mass market brands last Christmas against stalwarts such as Drakkar Noir and Cool Water, according to data from Information Resources Inc.

Spirit Antonio Banderas for Women will reach mass retailers this fall and buyers hope it will bring the same celebrity wattage to women’s mass scents that the logo delivered in men’s. The category could use the star power. According to IRI data for the 52 weeks ended Jan. 26, 2005, women’s mass market sales (excluding Wal-Mart) declined 3.4 percent to $483 million. Men’s during that same period increased 4.2 percent to $389 million.

Spirit Antonio Banderas for Men was the initial foray by PUIG into the U.S. market, but the company plans to grow into a “major player with new innovations in 2006,” according to Vince Colonna, executive vice president and general manager of PUIG Fragrances and Personal Care North America Inc., a subsidiary of PUIG Beauty and Fashion Group.

“The men’s scent set the tone, gave us credibility and a strong foundation,” said  Colonna. Industry sources say the women’s version could eclipse men’s sales and hit $30 million. Combined, the two scents will produce sales of at least $50 million, sources said. In Europe and Latin America, the PUIG Antonio Banderas Seductive fragrances franchise encompasses four fragrances as well as aftershaves, shower gels and balms, with sales in excess of $50 million.

Celebrity-endorsed fragrances are finally filtering into the mass market with Curious from Britney Spears and Jessica Simpson’s Dessert leading the way. But Antonio Banderas is, according to retailers’ recollections, the only celebrity with men’s and women’s offerings. Coty is using hunky Matthew McConaughey in advertising for Stetson, but the brand doesn’t bear his name. 

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Will women want a scent fronted by a man who is known for acting rather than designing? PUIG has the research to support that they do. “Women want him. Men want to be like him,” said Gregory Black, senior marketing manager at PUIG. Extensive research finds that Banderas appeals to both men and women of all ages. An added extra is his fame among Hispanic consumers whom more and more retailers are attempting to lure. “My roots in Spain are very important to me and in everything I do I want to be an ambassador for Latin culture,” said Banderas in a release.

Advertising for the women’s scent picks up where the man’s spot left off.  Banderas is dancing in a club and catches the eye of an attractive woman.  “We’re playing off of the men’s ad and adding the women’s scent to make the campaign consistent,” said Black. In addition to national television, the campaign includes national print, cable and in-store promotions that will break in October. Displays will feature Banderas and his female complement. There will also be account-specific vehicles. The company is receiving publicity from events such as sponsorship of Aspen’s annual Winterskol Festival and fireworks in January.

More than $12 million is earmarked for marketing and sampling for Antonio Banderas fragrances. Spirit Antonio Banderas for Women’s packaging is shapelier than the men’s and in pink rather than red. The scent is considered a modern Oriental with citrus and plum top notes, a fresh floral heart and a woody Oriental polish.

“In research, women all loved the bottle and thought Antonio would know what a woman should smell like,” said Black. The focus groups of women said the package would catch their eye immediately and draw them toward the fragrance.

Pricing for the women’s scent is in line with the men’s. A 1-oz. eau de toilette spray is $21.50, a 5-oz. body lotion is $9 and the 1.7-oz. EDT spray is $30.

PUIG is working with retailers to enhance the ambience of mass market fragrances. Integral to that effort has been an acrylic fixture created by The Royal Promotion Group.

Although Spirit for men was an existing scent in Europe from PUIG, the women’s version was created for the U.S. debut. According to Pedro Escudero, director of marketing, PUIG has plans to extend the men’s franchise and import other European success stories as well as unveil new innovations in the beauty category. PUIG also markets Barbie and My Scene body sprays and fine fragrances in the U.S.