Friday, April 25, 2008

Selling the Scent? Why NOBODY does that!

Suppose you had a fragrance to sell -- a fragrance you created and had a very good feeling about -- suppose you had this great fragrance to sell ... and NO fancy packaging. None. How, then, would you go about selling your fragrance?

It is hard to even imagine being in this position. It is hard to think of a perfume stripped of its packaging. Perhaps the last person to pull off this trick was Gabrielle Chanel -- in 1921. But, then again, her No.5 is still a best seller.

And this leads me to believe that it could be done -- selling a new, wonderful fragrance without any "push" from a beautifully designed package. But how would you go about doing it? Oh, and did I forget to mention? This is to be an expensive perfume!

Notice how hard it is to think of a perfume without its packaging. Notice how badly we want to connect the perfume with a "celebrity" or with some tangible, physical presence that is NOT the scent itself. Notice how lame major advertising is for a fragrance when the issue of words arises.

Tresor? "love is a treasure" -- but what does it smell like? My Insolence? "dare to be yourself" -- but the perfume??? Euphoria? "live the dream" -- but what will I smell when I open the bottle? Armani Code? "the secret code of women" -- code? What code? And on it goes.

The issue of the fragrance -- the scent -- is ignored because the advertisers haven't a clue as to how to write about it in a compelling manner. Is this an inherent problem with the fragrance of a perfume or is it simply a lack of advertising skill on the part of the advertisers?

Is fragrance -- the scent of the liquid in the bottle -- really so intangible that it can't be described?

Food advertisers seem to have no trouble talking about the contents of their packages. Is this simply because we are more familiar with the taste of lemon, sugar, cranberry, tomato juice, chocolate chip cookies, tangerines, mangoes -- for example? But is our familiarity with these tastes the result of them being talked about? Has our talk made the taste of these foods seem less abstract? Suppose we talked more about the scents of perfumes. Would it then, in time, become easier to write about new perfumes by describing their aromas? Is this just a part of our language which is not well developed (and not likely to become well developed, if perfume advertisers continue to shun the topic!)

Getting back to our expensive perfume without a packaging budget (or a celebrity!) ... is there some creative solution -- creative breakthrough, actually -- that would allow us to sell it successfully?

I feel confident that a solution can -- and will -- be found. And that it will be the beginning of the next big creative wave in perfume marketing.

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