The Grayson Report

Is Celebrity Enough?

March 7, 2006

Suzanne and Bob Grayson
Grayson Associates

Suzanne and Bob Grayson are respected, professional marketers, having spent their careers with the leading companies in the beauty industry before staring their successful consulting business in the early 1970s.

Their consulting clients have included Avon, Bristol-Myers, Estée Lauder, Procter & Gamble, Revlon and Cover Girl, among others. They reside in San Juan Capistrano, CA and maintain an office in New York City. For more information, they can be reached at or

Is there room for yet another celebrity or designer fragrance? Judging by the 2005 fourth quarter onslaught, the battle has just begun. And, if a marketer isn’t interested in using “B” and “C” list celebs, (“A” list is rapidly diminishing), it can just do flankers for the names already in its stable.  

It seems that once some marketers hand over the big bucks to the celebrity or designer, they believe that they can just sit back and let the “face” do the job.         

A digression. Every product must have a position to either target a consumer and/or to present a benefit to satisfy needs, real or imagined. If you do not give it to the consumer, she’ll perceive it...or lack of it...on her own.  Some years back, we established psychological segmentations for the fragrance category and assigned appropriate fragrances to them. These segmentations were based upon the advertising image, (Note: See Fragrance: Psychological Positioning Chart I. Only a few examples of the original and current fragrances are shown due to space considerations).  

Getting back to the main point, yesterday and today those fragrances which have had dual or triple appeals have the most impact, especially if those appeals are emotional. Companies that rely upon only the designer or the celebrity have nothing extra going for the fragrance to motivate the consumer. When you use celebrities or designers, they too, need to be differentiated, just like products.  Obviously, you can’t say that one “name” is better/more desirable than another. Rarely can just the name and the bottle establish the raison d’etre for the brand. Therefore, what you can/must do is provide a psychological positioning to create the emotion/relevance to the individual consumer. What’s in it for her?

More copy wanted. Both Live (top) and Euphoria (bottom) could use a few words to express the position of the scent and connect with the consumer.

There is also a major difference between using a celebrity as a recognizable face (a model alternative); i.e., Gwyneth Paltrow for Estée Lauder and Liv Tyler for Givenchy. In these cases, the brand is forever and supersedes the face, which may change over time, yet you still have the “recognition factor” going for you to create awareness and memorability. Ergo, the brand is bigger than the celebrity. In the case where the brand is the celebrity, it is subject to the vicissitudes of the continuing popularity,  morals, lifestyle, and so on. But, you may say, if you make enough at the outset, who cares, there’s always another celebrity—besides the life cycles of fragrances get shorter and shorter on their own. True enough, but you have to be very good at it, keeping a watchful eye on the financials. If you look at Chart II showing the enormous list of celebrity/designer fragrances launched in 2005, you will note how many of them merely rest upon the designer’s name, and the model and/or the bottle to create desire on the part of the consumer.  Most use the ubiquitous words, “a new fragrance from...” with no emotional positioning to move the consumer, both literally and figuratively. What a waste! Note Burberry Brit Red, Lauren Style.

Those which have no verbal positioning may still create some emotion with the graphic. Note Live and Euphoria, Here’s where a few words to express the position (i.e., target the reader) would linger and create greater resonance with the consumer.

What’s Burberry Brit’s raison d’etre?
Many did use the scent strip ad (note [*] on Chart II), which provides a sample of the juice, making a product statement of sorts, but few can afford to maintain that high-cost presentation. And, a couple (Lopez and Santana) offered strong GWPs on the back side of the ad.  Surely, a competitive edge, especially when so many of the ads appear in the same issue of the same books. If you would like to view the ads noted in the chart, just click on the name, and the ad will open in a new window. Here’s the wrap. The use of a celebrity or designer is just one important component of success.  The desire created by virtue of the positioning execution, the rest of the marketing mix, (i.e., $ and how creatively they are spent), and most especially the juice itself, are the keys to success. What a pity that many do not push to the max for every element at their disposal. Note: Taking just the ads themselves, the positioning and the graphic, we have assigned our impact rating on the chart. Of course, in the celebrity category, impact is largely due to the photographic use of the icon.  When the designer is the “face” (Kimora Lee Simmons) you have a “daily double.” Please feel free to disagree.

P. S.—The celebrity craze offers one real benefit to marketers: no need to struggle with positioning, consumer benefits, USP, et al. Just press “celebrity” and pass “go.”



The Committee of 100 is that group of marketers, packaging executives and designers who select the finalists for the INTERNATIONAL PACKAGE DESIGN AWARDS, part of the awards ceremony of HBA Global Expo. They are responsible for exercising their good judgment in selecting the best of the entries submitted. As a member of the Committee of 100, you will have electronic access to the entries to make your selection. It’s easy and fun—and makes an important contribution to the development of more exciting packaging.

Please e-mail your name to

Chart I: Fragrance Psychological Positioning
Categories Segments Early Examples New Examples*
Authority Status/Europe Chanel No. 5 Allure Sensuelle
  Designer/Fashion Chanel No. 5, Allure Sensuelle,
    Oscar de la Renta Euphoria
  Celebrity Elizabeth Taylor White Diamonds SJP Parker Lovely
      Jennifer Lopez Live,
      Shania Twain
  Lifestyle/Values Charlie, cK One Shania Twain
Womanhood Egosense/Fulfillment NaVy, Vanderbilt Jennifer Lopez Live
  Feminity Samsara, Red SJParker Lovely
Romantic Concepts Romance Shalimar, Windsong Britney Spears Fantasy
  Sensual to Sexy Emeraude, Aviance Allure Sensuelle,
      Kenneth Cole Black
  Fantasy Escape Opium, Escape Britney Spears Fantasy
Mood   Tresor, Sunflowers Euphoria
Product   Coty Vanilla Fields, White Musk Pleasures Exotic
Sports/Outdoors   Aliage/Aspen Shania Twain
Youth   Heaven Scent, !ex’’tion none

*Only a few examples are given.

Note: Some fragrances have more than one positioning; i.e., going beyond the celebrity/designer to create an emotional, psychological connection with the consumer.

Chart II: 2005 Reference Group Fragrances1
Fragrance Name Celebrity Company Positioning Impact2
Begin Nikki Taylor Victory Int. let go 7
Carlos Santana Carlos Santana* Victory Int. Arouse your senses 9
Fantasy Britney Spears* Elizabeth Arden Everybody has one 10
Lovely Sarah Jessica Parker* Coty Prestige Lovely on the Inside 9
Live Jennifer Lopez* Coty Prestige Nonverbal, emotion through graphic 10
True Star Gold Beyoncé Tommy Hilfiger None beyond celebrity/designer 9
    Estée Lauder    
Very Irrésistible Liv Tyler Givenchy*/LVMH Very elégante, very fun, very you 8
Belong Celine Dion* Coty Belong to the moment 8
Shania Shania Twain Stetson/Coty The Will of a Woman 9
Wonderful American Beauty Estée Lauder ...romantic fragrance...makes you feel wonderful 9
Spirit Antonio Banderas* Puig Looks are nothing without spirit 8
Fragrance Name Designer Company Positioning Impact2
Allure Sensuelle Chanel* Chanel A new fragrance from Chanel 9
Amber Nude Youth Dew Tom Ford Estée Lauder A new fragrance for women 10
Baby Phat Goddess Kimora Lee Simmons Coty Prestige The new fragrance 9
Black Kenneth Cole* Coty Prestige It’s better in the dark 9
Blush Marc Jacobs* Coty Prestige The new fragrance from Marc Jacobs 7
Burberry Brit Red Burberry Inter Parfums A special edition fragrance for women 6
Cinema Yves Saint Laurent* Gucci The new fragrance for women 9
Gucci Envy Me Gucci* Gucci The new fragrance for women 8
Escada Escada* P&G The fabulous new fragrance for a woman 7
Euphoria Calvin Klein* Calvin Klein A new fragrance 10
Island Michael Kors Estée Lauder The ultimate getaway 9
Lauren Style Ralph Lauren L’Oréal The new women’s fragrance by Ralph Lauren 4
Max Mara Max Mara* USA Int. La Parfum 7
Obsession Night Calvin Klein* Coty Prestige Introducing a new fragrance for women 9
Pure Turquoise Ralph Lauren* L’Oréal The Beauty. The Mystery. The Magic 10
Valentino Valentino P&G The fragrance 10
Versace Crystal Noir Versace Gianni Versace A new fragrance for women 9
Other Prestige        
Par Amours/Toujours Clarins Clarins Love saying it. Love feeling it. Love sharing it. 9
Pleasures Exotic Estée Lauder Estée Lauder The luscious new feeling in fragrance 9
Note: (*) Indicates ads with fragrance strips or on-page samples.
1 Reference Group is a category of psychological positioning, targeting the consumer who wishes to identify with the referent.
2 Columnists’ scale of 1-10 with 10 creating the most emotion in the reader.
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