NEW YORK — Tommy Hilfiger Toiletries is turning to a proven star to reverse its lackluster U.S. fragrance fortunes.
As reported first by WWD, the Estée Lauder Cos. division signed a multiyear deal in January with pop star Beyoncé Knowles to help market a new women’s fragrance, set to launch in the U.S. in September and globally in October.
With the new offering, called True Star, Lauder is maximizing its involvement with the pop princess: Not only will the brand invest in TV advertising — 30-second and 60-second spots directed by Laurent Chanez and featuring Knowles singing an a cappella version of “Wishing on a Star” — and a lavish print campaign shot by Mario Testino, it also is putting a sleeve on the fragrance’s outer packaging with a large black-and-white portrait of Knowles. Industry sources estimate that the total advertising and promotional war chest for the launch is upward of $15 million for the U.S. alone.
“We feel that True Star is a historical project for us,” said Fabrice Weber, president of Aramis and Designer Fragrances, in an interview outlining the specifics of the program late this month. “The association of Tommy Hilfiger and Beyoncé Knowles is an extraordinarily potent cocktail. With the iconic, global appeal of this superstar [Beyoncé], I think we have a [brand with] extraordinary aspirational strength.”
It’s all part of the latest trend in the prestige beauty world: to turn around an aging brand’s fortunes by looking to Hollywood. And Lauder’s not the only one to realize that strategy’s value. First, Nicole Kidman signed on as the face of Chanel No.5 last October. In the month after the Knowles deal was signed, Elizabeth Arden announced that it had signed a deal with another pop princess, Britney Spears. Then, Unilever Prestige reported that it had signed Scarlett Johansson to front its new women’s scent, coming this fall.
Will it work in Hilfiger’s case? Lauder executives certainly believe so. As reported in January, Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne, group president at The Estée Lauder Cos. who is responsible for the Tommy Hilfiger Toiletries brand, candidly discussed the Hilfiger beauty license’s challenges over the past several years, but said he thought this deal was a big step in the right direction.
None of the Lauder executives interviewed for this story would comment on projected sales except to say that the fragrance is aiming for a top five position with the new juice, although industry sources said they believe the brand is hoping to do $50 million at retail in the U.S. during its first year on counter. Executives also declined comment on the persistent reports that Lauder may partner with Sean “P. Diddy” Combs to do a men’s counterpart to True Star next year.
With True Star, the brand is looking both to draw in new customers and also to recapture past users, noted Carol Russo, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Aramis and Designer Fragrances. The scent’s primary age target is 25- to 45-year-olds, although executives also hope to draw in 15- to 25-year-olds. In the U.S., it will be available in Hilfiger’s current distribution, about 1,800 department and specialty store doors at this time.
The floral-oriental juice was developed by Raymond Matts, vice president, corporate fragrance development worldwide, Aramis and Designer Fragrances, in partnership with Quest. The first accord comprises “wet, watery notes,” noted Matts. The second accord comprises “sheer floral notes,” he said, including honeysuckle, sweet pea and syringa, and the third accord is made up of such diverse notes as Kashi cereal and rice pudding.
Two sizes of eau de parfum will be offered: 1.7 oz. for $45 and 3.4 oz. for $60. Two ancillaries also will be launched with the juice: a 6.7-oz. body lotion for $29.50 and a 6.7-oz. shower gel for $26.50. A third ancillary, a 1.7-oz. fragrance satin shimmer for $25, will be on counter for holiday.
The glass bottle, which has an opalescent finish at its base that lightens as it moves up the sides, was designed to look like an award, noted Robin Mason, executive director of global marketing. The bottle is topped by an engraved chrome spray-through cap.
Print advertising breaks in September magazines; TV ads break on cable at launch. A fourth-quarter co-op TV campaign is on tap for holiday, as is cinema advertising, said Russo. As well, more than 100 million scented impressions and upward of 10 million samples also are planned.
In the January interview, Bousquet-Chavanne candidly discussed the brand’s challenges. “The Tommy Hilfiger Toiletries division has seen a rocky road over the last few years,” he said, adding that the brand needs “a new energy” to reclaim its old footing in department stores. Lauder signed its fragrance license deal with Hilfiger in 1993, and while the first masterbrand, 1995’s Tommy, was a blockbuster, recent launches have not achieved the volume of business done by that initial offering.
“We believe that aligning the renewed fashion strength of Tommy Hilfiger [with Knowles’ participation] will result in increased energy for the fragrance franchise. We still own a substantial equity in the men’s and women’s fragrance world, and this project is our way of reengaging the consumer with a truly global fragrance concept,” Bousquet-Chavanne continued, as reported. “We believe this is a groundbreaking moment for this division.”
The stakes are “very big,” Weber acknowledged this past week of True Star’s need to succeed. “We have put massive support behind this launch, by our standards and by the industry’s standards.”
As reported, industry sources estimated that together, all of Hilfiger’s businesses, including licensed products and fashion, generate upward of $2.2 billion globally, with about $250 million of that produced worldwide by the Tommy Hilfiger Toiletries division, and according to NPD Beauty, the premier industry tracking group for prestige beauty, the Hilfiger fragrances did $57.3 million in 2003 in the U.S, down more than 30 percent from the previous year.