'Sex and the City' and Brand Integrity

Sarah Jessica Parker's Own Licensed Products Won't Be in Film, but Will Help Promote It

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Marketers Help Bring 'Sex' Back

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Since "Sex and the City" wrapped in 2004, the series' star, Sarah Jessica Parker, has earned millions lending her name to a variety of products. She inked a deal with Coty to launch her first fragrance, Lovely by Sarah Jessica Parker, in 2005. And in 2007 she launched a clothing line, Bitten, exclusively at Steve & Barry's.

So, what's a brand to do when it has a relationship with the star of one of the year's biggest movies? Both Coty and Steve & Barry's said they didn't assume that they would be included in the big-screen version of "Sex and the City" but welcomed the chance to partake in promotional tie-ins. And, of course, that Ms. Parker is a producer on the film didn't hurt.

Pulling strings
"Sarah Jessica, being a producer, really helped make it happen pretty quickly and easily," said Carlos Timiraos, VP-global marketing for Sarah Jessica Parker fragrances, noting that typically the brand needs longer lead times to pull together marketing deals.
A line of T-shirts and tanks under Sarah Jessica Parker's Bitten label features phrases such as 'I'm with Mr. Big.'
A line of T-shirts and tanks under Sarah Jessica Parker's Bitten label features phrases such as 'I'm with Mr. Big.'

Neither brand will have a presence in the movie, however, which admittedly could have been a bit odd, not to mention jarring for consumers.

"If you really think about it, not that I wouldn't love it, but it would be awkward because it's Sarah Jessica Parker, the fragrance, and there is not a Sarah Jessica Parker in the world of 'Sex and the City,'" Mr. Timiraos said.

Branding quandary
Mr. Timiraos admitted it is an interesting situation, as the fragrance is associated with Ms. Parker, who inherently embodies her character, Carrie Bradshaw, for millions of fans. "Skyy Vodka is logical. It makes sense for the characters in the movie," he said. "For us, it was a unique situation, because we're not really a character in the movie or connected to any of the personalities. But for other, logical reasons, it made sense for us to work together." "Sex and the City" and the Handbag Rental Business: Small Web Company Lucks Into Product Placement Bonanza.

The Lovely brand is running a promotion that gives consumers tickets to the movie as a gift with purchase. And a sweepstakes touted on "Access Hollywood" entails a day of pampering and a red-carpet turn at the premiere for the winner. In turn, the movie is being promoted in retail outlets, including Macy's and Dillard's.

"It gives [New Line] great exposure in that prestige arena in department stores with consumers who are already very friendly to Sarah Jessica and the ['Sex and the City'] brand," Mr. Timiraos said. "And it's great to build awareness for our brand too."

Apparel opportunities
Steve & Barry's, meanwhile, is the official licensed apparel partner for the movie. A line of T-shirts and tanks under the Bitten label features phrases such as "I'm with Mr. Big," as well as images of Ms. Bradshaw. The retailer is also running a sweepstakes, offering a trip to New York and private screenings of the movie, among other prizes.

"We probably wouldn't have had as much interest in the film, had we not had a preceding relationship [with Ms. Parker], but it became a natural complement," said Howard Schacter, chief partnership officer at the retailer. "We already have some research that shows we're attracting a lot of new customers to our store on the strength of that property."
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