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Facing stiff competition from specialty stores and upscale fragrances increasingly appearing in less-posh emporiums, the major mass marketers of fragrances will spend more than $40 million combined this fall to improve their fortunes in a declining market.

Revlon is banking on She; Renaissance Cosmetics has a Fetish; Coty is talking up Gossip by Cindy Adams and the more-mystical Avatar and the Healing Garden.

Revlon also is said to be considering a launch of Charlie Platinum, in celebration of Charlie's 25th anniversary, though no decision has been made.


By far its biggest launch will be She, targeted at teens and carrying a more than $10 million marketing budget.

Ads from Tarlow Advertising, New York, are expected to feature one or more Revlon spokesmodels personifying the concepts of "confidence, power and unlimited potential."

Renaissance Cosmetics, which to date has made its name rejuvenating old scents, will be fielding an entirely new one in Fetish, also aimed at teen girls.

The fragrance idea grew out of Renaissance-subsidiary Cosmair's successful introduction of Nail Fetish; it may in turn lead to Fetish makeup next year.

Lambesis, a youth-marketing agency in New York, will handle the Fetish fragrance launch, expected to be budgeted at about $8 million with a mix of print and radio advertising and direct marketing.

Coty has already fielded two new fragrances this year: Noko-mis and Calgon Body Sprays. The three scheduled for fall-Gossip by Cindy Adams, Avatar and Healing Garden-represent its most concerted effort yet to snap the mass market, and its own business, out of the doldrums.


Last year, sales of mass-market women's fragrances dropped 12.9% to $681.4 million, according to Information Resources Inc. Through the 52 weeks ended March 30, category sales declined 9.4% from the previous-year period to $603.5 million, representing an improvement but by no means a recovery.

Coty has seven of the top 10 women's scents and four of the top 10 men's fragrances, according to IRI. All but a handful of those posted sales declines, a lethargy common to the market.

"1996 was a difficult year," said Coty Senior VP-Marketing Development Mary Manning. "A lot of traditional business is being siphoned away by people visiting bath and body shops or stores like The Gap and Banana Republic. So we felt we had to present a lot of excitement for the traditional retailer."


Nokomis, in stores since March 1 and backed by $10 million in advertising from Seiden Group, New York, has scored a 1.3% share already.

This fall's launches of Gossip for women and Avatar for men, both handled by Jerry & Ketchum, New York, will be supported by more than $16 million in advertising plus sampling, scent strips, and trial sizes.

Avatar will be touted as "The fragrance of possibilities"; the tagline on Gossip is "Gossip. Give them something to talk about."

Gossip columnist Cindy Adams will not be in the ads, which instead feature sound bites of people talking about a couple obviously in love. But Ms. Adams will do a PR blitz on TV talk shows.

Coty's third fall entry, Healing Garden, represents a new direction for the marketer in that it has wholistic, mood-altering positioning.

Ads, created in-house, will be limited to print and are budgeted at $5.6

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