Chris Paul is latest athlete-turned-fragrance

February, 7, 2013
2/07/13
10:40
AM ET
Chris Paul Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty ImagesFace it, you're never going to dribble a basketball like Chris Paul. But you can at least smell like him.
There he is, Chris Paul in all his glory -- hurdling down the court, dripping in sweat, immersed in the essence of his game.

Don't you just want to bottle it and sell it as a fragrance?

Several athletes and teams are doing just that, capturing the aura that tickles their nose and selling it to fans. The recent trend includes David Beckham, Annika Sorenstam and the New York Yankees.

Avon is the latest to bank on an athlete’s scent, inking Paul to be the face of its “Untouchable” men’s fragrance. The fragrance retails at $25 and is available through the company’s reps and Avon.com.

But this all raises a question: Do consumers buy a scent because of the smell or because of the power of an athlete or team’s brand?

Baker Street Advertising senior vice president and creative director Bob Dorfman finds the trend of athletes or teams backing a fragrance “fascinating.”

[+] EnlargeUntouchable
Courtesy of AvonChris Paul joins Derek Jeter and triathlete Matt Miller as Avon fragrance endorsers.
“Scent marketing and purchasing seems to be a very subjective category,” Dorfman said. “I think that in the case of team and athlete fragrances, branding is the primary reason for purchase. Why else would you buy a scent from a sweaty athlete?”

Care to know what an entire clubhouse smells like? The Yankees released both men's and women's fragrances at the start of last season.

“If you're say a Yankees fan or a Derek Jeter fan, buying their fragrance is just another way of connecting with your favorite team or player,” Dorfman said. “The actual smell is secondary.”

Fans can buy a 1.7-ounce bottle of "New York Yankees” and “New York Yankees for Her” for $49 or a 3.4-ounce bottle for $62. Sales of the aroma eclipsed seven figures in the first eight months on the market, and sales have now expanded into Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Panama and South America, with plans for Europe and Asia in April.

The development of the line with fragrance house Firmenich took longer than an A-Rod contract negotiation, totaling three years from conception to launch.

Partnering with sports figures helps perfume houses stand out from a crowded shelf of bottles.

GMR marketing vice president of business development Jimmy Burns admits he hasn’t bought his own cologne in years, letting his wife do the honors.

“Even if it’s a wife in there shopping for her husband, she knows that his favorite team is the New York Yankees,” Burns said. “That is going to be in her consideration. If she looks at those three to five colognes that she’s going to test to see which one she likes the best, I think that’s where that value of association can come into play because more than likely she’s going to at least give it a try.”

[+] EnlargeNew York Yankees fragrance
Courtesy of the Cloudbreak GroupThe Yankees' fragrance was a success in its first season on the market.
Still, Burns insists the repeat purchases only come if the flavor fits her fancy.

“At the end of the day, it has to be a quality product,” Burns said. “Now if it’s not any good, then you’re not going to see the extended purchase.”

The Cloudbreak Group owns the Yankees’ fragrance license, created the design and packaged and developed the fragrance. The company handles the sales, distribution, marketing, advertising and communications. Through its agreement with MLB, the company now has its sights on lines for the Red Sox, Dodgers and Rangers to release before opening day.

With “Untouchable,” Chris Paul is the latest sports ambassador for Avon. The traditionally women’s-centered brand also has a “Triathlon” fragrance that touted triathlete Matt Miller as the face of the line, and previously carried a scent with NASCAR driver Carl Edwards.

The deal with Paul brings its current roster of athlete endorsers to three, as the company has boasted Yankees SS Derek Jeter’s “Driven” line since 2006.

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