Singer Christina Aguilera has channeled the spirit of another American pop figure, Andy Warhol, and melded it with one of the hippest influences in the contemporary world — Tokyo — to produce Inspire, her first women’s scent aimed at the U.S.
This story first appeared in the May 23, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
During a recent trip to New York, Aguilera said the development of the fragrance was in synch with the production of a new album she hopes to put out around the end of year. The last record, “Back to Basics,” was a high-glam, red-lipped retro look at Old Hollywood. The new effort is meant to provide “a modern take on the Pop Art era,” the influence that Warhol had on the period combined with the image of Tokyo, particularly “the energy and excitement and how the whole city feels and comes alive at night,” she said.
The outer packaging is red because “it’s fun, it pops.” A touch of pink is meant to add playfulness, she said, the teardrop shape of the bottle is the classic statement and the silver-colored, saucer-shaped top “brings in the modern appeal.”
Her licensee, P&G Prestige Products, is entering the celebrity sweepstakes with Aguilera and has studied the category with the kind of thoroughness that the Cincinnati-based consumer products behemoth hopes will propel it to the head of the class.
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“It’s new for us,” noted Donald J. Loftus, president and chief executive officer of the New York-based P&G Prestige Products Inc. Noting that the two biggest trends in fragrance marketing in the last decade have been celebrity- and designer-endorsed scents, Loftus said, “We think Christina Aguilera is a huge talent,” who has undergone a metamorphosis “like a young Madonna — an amazing voice, an amazing talent.”
Aguilera’s eponymous first fragrance, which was launched overseas a year ago, came out at a time that did not allow the necessary logistical planning for a U.S. department store launch, Loftus noted, maintaining that the fragrance did well, shooting to the top of the charts in the U.K. and Germany.
For the new fragrance, P&G, with its creative teams in Geneva, took pains. During the development of the project, key retailers were consulted, Loftus noted.
The fragrance will be launched Sept. 1 in the U.S., with a full promotional battery of co-op advertising, gift sets at holiday and gift-with-purchase offerings. Single-page ads with scented strips will appear in beauty, fashion and lifestyle magazines. Loftus said Aguilera has planned so far to make two store appearances at Macy’s East and Macy’s West.
He added that P&G hopes to become a significant force in the celebrity fragrance category. “We want to own it,” he said, indicating that the company is shopping for other stars as well.
Loftus and other P&G executives declined to give sales projections. But industry sources estimated that the fragrance could do $50 million in first-year wholesale sales worldwide, with $20 million of that total coming from the U.S. alone.
The new scent will have a broader distribution base than the first effort, with plans for 24,000 doors and markets including the U.S., Canada, Latin America, Asia, northern and eastern Europe and the U.K.
“This one is global,” Heike Hindenlang, global marketing director for the lifestyle and premium jewels division of P&G Prestige Products, said during an interview in Geneva. “We didn’t have a lot of time to develop the first one, now we have a deeper understanding of the brand and what it stands for.”
Davide LaChapelle filmed the scent’s print and TV commercials in Los Angeles. Created with the P&G fragrance team together with International Flavors & Fragrances, Aguilera started working on this fragrance while on her last tour.
She ticked off the notes that appealed to her — the tuberose, the gardenia “which I love,” the freesia and the undercurrent of musk, which she said reminds her of men’s fragrances. Aguilera said she used to wear her husband’s scents, but “now he loves smelling me in my own fragrance.” The singer said she appreciates the convenience afforded by fragrance, when getting ready in the morning. “It’s the quickest thing you can do to get out the door,” she said.
The fragrance line includes three sizes of eau de parfum — a 1-oz. for $32, a 1.7-oz. for $49 and a 3.3-oz. for $59. There also will be a 6.7-oz. body lotion for $20 and a 6.7-oz. shower gel for $25.
The Inspire formula opens with vibrant fruity notes of mango, citrus and freesia; is balanced out with a white floral middle accord of tuberose, rose and gardenia, and base notes of Valencia orange flower, sandalwood and musks.
Referring to Aguilera, Hindenlang agreed, “She loves tuberose fragrances but they tend to be a bit heavy so we kept working on it to make it more young.”
P&G fragrance scientist Will Andrews, speaking in New York, remarked, “The hero of the fragrance is tuberose.” He added that the trick was in making it a contemporary, white floral.