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Elizabeth Arden Inc. was casting about for a new fragrance in late 1992. The company "wanted to .*.*.do something that just makes everybody feel good, and then go outside of the way fragrances are traditionally marketed," recalls Joe Spellman, exec-VP product development and creative services worldwide.

Because the norm in the fragrance industry is to launch new scents prior to Christmas or Mother's Day, Arden decided to start promoting its new fragrance in summer.

Since the icon of Christmas is a tree, "we asked ourselves, `What is the icon for spring and summer that makes everybody feel good?'*"

Inspiration struck-"We love Vincent Van Gogh and he loved Sunflowers. And we thought, that's a very good idea."

The story has become part of fragrance industry lore as has the success of Sunflowers itself. Within months of its summer 1993 introduction, the fragrance was voted by Glamour readers as one of their 10 favorites. In 1994, when Sunflowers added bath and body products, sales doubled to nearly $100 million.

The name was a serendipitous choice. By summer 1994, sunflowers bedecked everything from General Mills' Sun Crunchers cereal packages to Perrier ads.

Sunflowers' advertising, done in-house, embodies the spirit of the theme "A celebration of life," showing model Vendela swinging a little girl on the beach, a shot reminiscent of a young Jacqueline Kennedy photo from Life.

Arden spent $12 million to market the scent in 1993. But what also helped was price.

The most popular price level in the industry is $25 for 1.7 ozs. Sunflowers started at $17.50 for one oz. The company purposely omitted perfume since it would raise the price (and depart from Sunflowers' positioning).

Today, Sunflowers is among the Top 10 selling fragrances and in summer it's often No. 1 in many stores. Though it's still beat by Estee Lauder's Beautiful in dollar sales, in units it may be No.1.

"It is much more reasonably priced than most prestige scents, so the number of units we have to sell to achieve those rankings is tremendous," notes Mr. Spellman.

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