LIZ CLAIBORNE TRIES ITS LUCK
Byline: Pete Born
NEW YORK — Liz Claiborne Cosmetics is betting $20 million that it will get lucky this fall.
The company will launch women’s and men’s fragrances in late August as part of a master brand, called Lucky You, based on the Lucky Jeans label. It will be backed with $20 million in advertising and promotional spending for the four-month fall launch period.
That amount of investment seems like a safe bet, in the minds of executives, considering the salability of the concept and Claiborne’s track record in launching similar youth-oriented fragrances, Curve and Candie’s.
Curve, a 1996 men’s and women’s master brand, was aimed at Generation X, mostly consumers aged 18-35, and its imagery was based on “the adventurous and unexpected,” according to Neil J. Katz, president. Then came the men’s and women’s Candie’s, a pair of scents aimed at Generation Y, aged 13 to 25. Its imagery was one of brazen sexuality.
The parent Liz Claiborne apparel company bought 85 percent of Lucky Jeans last year as part of its endeavor to become, as Katz put it, “the Procter & Gamble of the fashion industry.”
Part of the plan is to leverage the brand with varied applications, like fragrance. While noting that “not everything the corporation buys will fit [the beauty market], Katz made it clear that in this case, Lucky is a natural.
“What we have is a brand with almost an American authentic imagery, a retro feeling in a modern way,” Katz said, noting that it evoked a romanticism of the Fifties, with a more feminine mystique. Katz pointed out that the words “Lucky You” are embroidered on the fly of Lucky jeans.
He noted that the company has been able to target the same audience — Generation X and Y — with three brands, all selling sex or romance.
Claiborne was able to do this without cannibalization, he said, because “each time we were able to appeal to a lifestyle approach to romance and sex that is different. Using different brands each time, it allows you to be more specific with a different meaning,” Katz said.
Vice president of marketing Art Spiro based his interpretation of the brand on common associations with the word “lucky.” He said, “my perception is that every generation reflects back on memories that are very positive — when you’re 15 years old and you remember hitting your first home run in Little League or your first dating experience.”
True to the Fifties Americana theme, the flacons of the men’s and women’s scents are shaped like old-fashioned apothecary bottles, with raised glass lettering running down the narrow sides — spelling “America’s Favorite” — and beveled edges. The outer carton has a raised diamond pattern pressed into the cardboard, reminiscent of industrial plating used in truck bodies. “It’s got a wink,” Spira said of the packaging’s tongue-in-cheek playfulness. The packaging design was done by Elizabeth Carlucci Cord.
The theme is strengthened by the advertising. The print ads, photographs shot by Carlo Pieroni to look like colored drawings, are risque but with an innocence that dates back to half a century ago. They look like the drawings that once illustrated calendars hanging on walls of gas stations located along lonely stretches of road.
The TV spot — directed by Rob Cohen and produced by Joe Petruccio of Avrett Free Ginsberg — takes place in a diner, and morphs into a fantasy dance sequence, ending with the couple leaving the restaurant together. Her final words: “Get lucky.”
Each fragrance line has eight stockkeeping units, with an opening price point of $35 for the 1.7-oz. eau de toilette spray and $45 for the 3.4-oz. version.
Harry Fremont at Firmenich developed the women’s fragrance and Jean Claude Delville at International Flavors & Fragrances did the men’s.
The women’s scent was designed to provide comfortable and fresh sensuality. The top note offers water hyacinth, crushed green leaves, ruby red grapefruit and freesia. Mid notes include star jasmine, blue poppy and peony with a dry down featuring skin musk, amber musk and creamy sandalwood.
The men’s scent employs a new musk molecule from bottom to top. One unusual feature is a top note accord of tamarind and cotton flower, along with melilotus herb. The mid range features cardamom, cascarilla bark and costus from Zanzibar. The base is formed by musk, sandalwood, bamboo stem, rosewood and teakwood.
Executives would not discuss dollars, but industry sources fully expect Lucky You to perform on a par with Candie’s — shipments of $30 million through the end of the year-making for a 12-month total of $40 million.
Sources also estimate the size of the war chest at $20 million, including $6 million for national magazine and cable TV advertising. Another $3.5 million will be spent on co-op TV advertising and $2 million on a gift-with-purchase promotion at launch in late August. The effort also includes 20 million scented strips and scented tattoos. The rest will be spent on different facets of sales promotion, including an army of roving sales assistants.
Katz has a simple formula for drawing the young into department stores and selling them fragrance. “You have to create excitement in the stores,” he said, asserting that there must be a return to the theatrics of the Seventies.
The stores have been guilty of discouraging the young, he noted, by deemphasizing products that would draw kids. But that has changed. “Over the last two years,” he said, “a lot of work has been done to get the kind of merchandise that would appeal to young people.”