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Liz Claiborne Launches $20 Million Bora Bora Campaign

By Published on .

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Polynesian dancers swinging and swaying to the familiar tune of "Stranger in Paradise" will greet
Part of a print ad for the new Bora Bora fragrance line. Click to see larger image.

shoppers at cosmetics counters next month to let customers know about to Bora Bora.

Not the island in the South Pacific, however: The dancers are joining Liz Claiborne Cosmetics' 5,000-strong army of selling assistants in department stores nationwide to introduce the company's latest scent.

A $47.50 dream
The launch for Bora Bora, accompanied by a $20 million print and spot TV campaign from Interpublic Group of Cos.' Avrett, Free & Ginsberg, New York, aims to "bring shoppers a fantasy, a location, a dream that comes in a bottle -- for $47.50," said Neil Katz, president of Liz Claiborne Cosmetics.

Using imagery and

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aspiration to sell fragrance is nothing new. Estee Lauder ads have long relied on the classic beauty of a model photographed in richly sentimental settings; stark, black-and-white photographs of somber models set a mood to create a brand for Calvin Klein's fragrances. But Mr. Katz stands apart from his competitors by expanding beyond customary marketing approaches.

Youthful audience
"Neil has come closer to a youthful audience than other fragrances," said Annette Green, president of the Fragrance Foundation, a nonprofit educational organization of the international fragrance industry. "That's the group with disposable income to spend on themselves -- and one way to spend it is on fragrance."

His success is needed now more than ever. Fragrance sales in 2001 declined, generating $2.89 billion, a 2% decrease vs. 2000's $2.9 billion, according to NPD BeautyTrends. Yet despite that overall drop, Mr. Katz's division last year successfully introduced Mambo, a fragrance borne out of the popularity of Latino dances, food and culture. Sales of Mambo, Liz Claiborne reported in its 2001 annual report, were partially responsible for the company's gross profit increase of 15.7%.

But in the first quarter of 2002, Liz Claiborne reported that reduced sales of fragrances Curve, Liz Sport and Lucky You, plus costs from the recently launched Mambo brand, offset the company's $7.7 million gain in operating income.

Joint launches
Mr. Katz has taken risks and succeeded in the past. In 1996, Liz Claiborne Cosmetics broke with industry tradition and launched at the same time both the men's and women's lines of Curve. To get 19- to 35-year-old men into department stores, the Curve introduction included a sweepstakes that gave away 20 Chrysler Sebring Jxi Convertibles.

Sales of Curve for Men grew at a double-digit rate in 1999 and 2000, said Natalie Siedman, director, NPD BeautyTrends.

"It was among the top five ranked fragrances for men in 2001," Ms. Siedman said, "and continued into this year's first quarter."

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