EAU D’EDEN’S STANDOUT STRATEGY
Byline: Sarah Raper
NEW YORK — With European perfumeries drowning in launches of fresh, light fragrances — there are more than 10 this spring — it’s going to be difficult to stand out in the crowd.
That’s why L’Oreal’s Cacharel is treating its Eau d’Eden introduction in late April as a full-blown launch and not just a summer spinoff of its women’s Eden.
L’Oreal’s prestige division is an old hand at the so-called sister scent strategy, having launched Acqua di Gio by Armani and Cacharel’s Loulou Blue last year.
Once again, the Eau d’Eden bottle shape is the same as the original and the name is similar, but the fragrance is a transparent floral, completely unrelated to Eden, and the brand boasts a healthy promotional budget. Cacharel plans to spend 60 percent of the scent’s $30 million in worldwide wholesale volume projected for this year, or $18 million, on promotion, including print and TV.
Most competitors will limit their advertising to print.
Key to the strategy is the decision to use French advertising meister Jean-Paul Goude, whose credits include Chanel No. 5 and Egoiste spots.
Goude, 50, is also known for the runway show he staged for Azzedine Alaia at the Palladium in New York in 1985, and the quirky parade down the Champs-Elysees for the bicentennial of the French Revolution in 1989 — and, of course, for managing Grace Jones.
Goude is considering an offer to work on a TV talk show for Jones on a U.S. cable channel that would be an alternative to the Psychic Friends Network.
There’s nothing he likes better than discovering and promoting a new face, and he thinks he has a winner with 17-year-old Estella Warren, who stars in the Eau d’Eden ad.
“We’re launching the girl at the same time as the product,” he said enthusiastically in an interview in the middle of his post-production work on the film.
The TV spot, which shows a woman blanketed in flowers emerging from the ocean, will break on European airwaves in May.
Warren, who’s with American Model Corp., moonlights as a synchronized swimmer. Warren was selected for the Canadian team for the Summer Olympics in Atlanta, but declined to go because she felt she did not have adequate preparation time.
Goude said he was extremely impressed by Warren’s discipline. “She’s up at 5 o’clock in the morning and swims for five or six hours, every day,” he said, adding, “How many models have that kind of schedule?”
During the shoot in Mexico this year, one thing that struck Goude was that Warren’s nose looked curiously misshapen from certain angles. “Finally, I realized it was a sort of professional deformation — she had been wearing a nose pincher [guard] for swimming for all those years.”
They did have one argument on the set when filming dragged on for more days than expected because of bad weather, keeping Warren out of the pool. “She even pointed her finger at me and said, ‘You lied to me,”‘ said Goude, wincing at the memory.
But Warren’s father apparently called and told her to finish the job like a professional. “And she did.”
Goude hooked up with Warren because his original idea for the ad’s story line was a woman swimming with a shark, in a reworking of the Original Sin theme. Although he even organized a few practice sessions in a pool with a mechanical shark, the idea was eventually abandoned.
Goude was disappointed but says he understands L’Oreal executives’ reservations. The company worried about the association of fish and fragrance, and about the complications of filming underwater.
“‘Waterworld’ was the most expensive film ever made,” Goude observed. “Plus, there was the problem of filming. Eve had to be naked, but you had to be careful about filming her private parts.”
Instead, Goude’s TV film is inspired by the print ad he had shot, which shows Warren covered in roses with just her face and a breast peeking through. “It has a mass appeal and is very commercial, but it avoids being corny,” Goude said.
Recruiting Goude is the latest step in the evolution of the Cacharel brand, which for years had an image linked to the ethereal advertising of Sarah Moon. It’s a tricky business, said Goude. “Sarah Moon is a hard act to follow and Cacharel, with all those childish girls, is her masterpiece.
“This has my treatment — it may be a little bit more amusing,” he said. “Most perfume ads are serious and lyrical. Of course, you can’t be ha-ha funny with perfume, but it can be treated in a lighter way.”
The advertising aside, Eau d’Eden is an attempt to beef up sales of the Eden franchise for Cacharel. Eden had a worldwide volume of $50 million in 1995, according to Cacharel. When it was launched in the first half of 1994, the scent ran into trouble in some European markets, especially Germany, and executives blame the juice for not having wide enough appeal.
As a result, Eau d’Eden will be launched in the Mideast and the non-German-speaking markets of Europe. It will roll out to Asia, except Japan, and to some Latin American countries later in the year.
No U.S. launch is planned since Cosmair executives are still studying how to relaunch the entire Cacharel franchise. Although back in 1994, French retailers complained that the scent trailed other introductions that year, recent Secodip sell-through figures for France show that Eden has held its own against competitors like Tocade by Rochas, Nuits Indiennes by Jean-Louis Scherrer and Dior’s Tendre Poison.