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Fragrance marketer Coty is contemplating a shift in media strategy that could see a sizable block of its estimated $77 million in magazine spending shift to TV.

Executives at Coty and its media buying agency, Robert J. Geller & Associates, New York, said nothing would be decided until 1998 brand planning sales and marketing meetings-scheduled for this week and next-are concluded.

One publishing executive said he believes as much as 75% of Coty's print budget might be moving to TV.

Coty VP-Marketing Arthur Sherwood called that figure "wacky," but acknowledged that a shift is under consideration.


"We are in the process of identifying what we should be doing. We are meeting with lots of books and trying to decide our options," Mr. Sherwood said, adding that Coty has been watching with interest Estee Lauder Cos.' moves at Conde Nast Publications (AA, Aug. 4).

"Coty's media strategy for 1998 . . . won't be decided for several weeks," said Robert Geller, agency president. "But it may result in a redirection of some of their advertising."

Also, he said, the decisions will be made on a brand basis, not on a corporate level.


"There is no doubt that Coty will remain a magazine advertiser," Mr. Geller added. "The question is whether it will be to the same extent they were in the past."

There are several factors said to be driving Coty's re-evaluation of media, including the need to boost sales in a mature, declining mass market.

Total category sales fell 12.9% to $681.4 million in 1996, according to Information Resources Inc. Coty has seven of the top 10 women's scents and four of the top 10 men's fragrances, said IRI, but five of its seven top brands saw declining sales for the 52 weeks ended March 30.

Also, the $1.5 billion Coty Worldwide is looking at an initial public offering, industry executives say, so the U.S. division is under pressure to increase sales.

The mandate for greater use of TV is said to be coming from Peter Harf, president-CEO of Coty parent Joh. A. Benckiser GmbH.

Coty brands-including fragrances, cosmetics and toiletries-spent $77 million in magazines last year out of a total media budget of $110 million, according to Competitive Media Reporting. It spent $32 million on TV.


Earlier this year, Coty executives said they would spend more than $20 million on three launches for fall: Avatar for men, Healing Garden and Gossip by Cindy Adams. Healing Garden's $5.6 million budget is slated exclusively for print (AA, May 12).

The possibility of losing budgets to TV is being taken seriously enough by the Magazine Publishers of America to warrant a presentation by Exec VP-Marketing Christine Miller, touting the strength of magazine advertising, to executives from Coty and Geller.


"With the budget levels they have, it's very easy for them to be outspent in television instead of really dominating the way they do in print," said Nora McAniff, publisher of Time Inc.'s People, which typically carries an average of 50 pages a year from Coty.

She also pointed to two advantages magazines provide fragrance advertisers: the ability to sample scents through fragrance strips and provide in-store merchandising at mass retailers.

Contributing: Pat Sloan.

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