Sean “Diddy” Combs is doing home shopping.
This story first appeared in the November 24, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The hip-hop impresario-turned-designer will make his debut on the HSN network Monday, on behalf of his I Am King and Unforgivable fragrances. His appearance will mark a significant step in HSN’s campaign to not only prove fragrances can be sold on TV, but also capture a commanding vantage in the market. Mindy Grossman, chief executive officer of HSN Inc., recalled working at VH1, and she wants to apply a similar strategy. “We should own Behind the Fragrance,” Grossman said, paraphrasing the title of the music-biography series.
To counteract the critics, who contend that fragrance can’t be sniffed and sampled on TV, Lancôme put 2.5 million scented strips of Tresor into HSN’s December viewers’ guide. The storytelling aspect has been buttressed by the creation of sets designed to evoke the story of each brand, such as Gwen Stefani’s Snow Bunnies flankers of her Harajuku Lovers franchise, as well as brands by Sarah Jessica Parker and Jennifer Lopez.
HSN also has built a special set for Combs in its St. Petersburg, Fla., studio. The design has a homey, living-room feeling reminiscent of a talk show. That’s because half the presentation will be in a conversational format, with Combs being interviewed on camera. He will not be pitching the products.
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Grossman’s strategy is to tell the backstory — “to bring the fragrance, the brand and who he is to life. We think Sean has a huge following and he has got a great story to share.” Specifically, Grossman said Combs will “be sharing his beliefs behind his fragrances, why he developed them and what are the reference points.”
She added, “We have a real diverse audience and we see the opportunity for Sean to bring in a broad segment of new customers.” Grossman concluded, “This is a very embedded part of the strategy to really create a very exciting, dynamic distribution channel for prestige fragrances. It’s about coming into that movie.”
Combs will be on the air from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Nov. 30. None of the executives would break out numbers, but according to industry sources, Combs and HSN hope to break the $400,000 mark in retail sales for the two-hour show.
Jeffrey Tweedy, executive vice president of Sean John, said the company’s goal is to increase brand awareness through the broader reach of TV. Referring to the talk show format, he said, “We are excited this is the first time this format is being used.” He praised Grossman for “turning [HSN] into a hip TV channel.”