Defining the 'Boss Man' – an interview with P&G's Will Andrews

29th September, 2015

Will Andrews
You possibly haven’t heard of the Maninka fruit. I hadn’t until I read the press release for the latest Boss fragrance: there amongst the familiar ginger, lavender and leather, stood the Maninka fruit. 

The Maninka fruit comes from the oncoba spinosa tree, colloquially known as the snuff-box tree. The note has not been used before in perfumery, so I spoke with Will Andrews, Scientist and Senior Evaluator at P&G Prestige, to learn more.

“this note isn’t really for the consumer”, says Andrews – “this is for the creative team, it’s a new note to help inspire the creative perfumers - new notes inspire their work.”

Andrews' P&G colleagues, Iain Stevenson and Enrica Perrotta went, alongside botanists, analytical chemists and specialist perfumers from IFF, on an exploratory expedition to the Fynbos region in South Africa’s Southen Cape. “The Fynbos region is full of plant diversity, and is one of six floral kingdoms in the world, and contains plants that cannot be found anywhere else. We went there with the intention of finding new and exciting ingredients to use.”

The team had to have permits to enter the area, and were not permitted to remove plants from the area, so they used Headspace technology, which records the fragrance molecules in the air around an item, so a specialist perfumer can recreate it.

“It has a dried fruit aroma, but there’s also a part of it which smells like strawberrys dipped in chocolate” says Andrews, “the locals say it’s an aphrodisiac and they claim that if you chew a piece of the fruit for three days, it leads to excitement for men and for women!”

His team found around 50 other plants and aromas, which they intend to use in future projects. The accords will be exclusive to P&G/IFF fragrances, and Andrews says the team is looking forward to “identifying which new fragrances we can use them in”.

One thing P&G Prestige know how to do well is sell to their market. Their market isn’t the hardcore uber-niche fan, it’s fragrances for everyone else, and P&G have this down to a fine art.

“For Boss The Scent, we wanted incorporate four personality elements, which we feel are the essence of seduction for the ‘Boss Man’: Strength, Confidence, Elegance & Style and the rather abstract, Personal Magnetism”.

Andrews, says that “Each ingredient has a functional role and a character role.” the Maninka fruit was the element that represented ‘Personal Magnetism’, “It’s new and exciting and its scent definitely draws you in”. 


Above, the Maninka Fruit

We looked at three other notes in the fragrance, which describe the ‘Boss man’ 

Leather represents strength for the Boss Man. “Leather is a familiar part of the masculine odour landscape,” says Andrews “have you noticed how the smell of leather surrounds successful men? their briefcase, leather shoes, the upholstery in their car?”. 

You can’t extract the smell of leather to use in perfumery, so like many notes, it has to be created in a lab, using hundreds of ingredients. “this is not a dirty Tuscan leather, its softer.”

“The leather accord we used for Boss The Scent, has resinous, castoreum-like elements, saffron notes, and the wet dampness, like you get with vetiver.. It’s the key to the fragrance’s longevity, and gives the fragrance the lasting impression.”

Confidence is represented by ginger. “I love ginger,” says Andrews, “it gives a fantastic tingle in your nose…”

“When you eat, flavour is made up of three things – the olfactory part, what you smell is around 85%, and the rest is taste, from our taste buds. And then there is mouth-feel, which is detected by trigeminal nerve endings.”

“Whenever you feel a tingle from a spice, this it’s this – spices set it off! and some people love this feeling, it’s why they search for spicier and spicier food!”

Boss The Scent
Finally, lavender, for ‘Elegance & Style’. “Lavender is part of men’s subconscious – it’s the scent of our fathers and grandfathers. Lavender was key to the rise of men’s Fougere fragrances in the sixties, and has been part of the social landscape for a long time. It’s the smell of a freshly groomed male!”

Boss The Scent, is unmistakedly a Boss fragrance. It fits into the family well. It’s probably not going to sway hard-core niche-heads, but thats not its intention. 

We spoke a little about all the brands P&G has worked with over the years, and Andrews confided that he keeps a Word document with lists of all the brands they worked with, the fragrances they made, and where applicable, where the brand was passed on to. 

“We’ve had to trim down a lot over the years” says Andrews. The acquisition of Wella in 2003, meant they had more brands than they could deal with, “and I suspect we may have to do this again at some stage”, he says, perhaps alluding to Coty's acquisition of P&G's Prestige fragrance and beauty brands.

“One thing we’ve always done though, is make sure they’ve gone to good homes.” Andrews says, “we never would just pass them on to anyone. I loved it that Baldessarini went to Maurer & Wirtz [the manufacturers of Tabac], because we absolutely loved creating the fragrances for that brand.  It went back to Germany, where it belonged!”

Boss The Scent is available now. 


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About the author: Grant Osborne

Grant Osborne is the founder and editor of Basenotes. Grant has two children, and a dependence on tea, haribo and bacon.



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      • hednic | 29th September 2015 17:56

        Interesting about that exotic fruit.

      • cornishlee | 29th September 2015 20:02

        To some.

        Personally though, I see it as little more than marketing obfuscation. Since notes are separate from ingredients they exist only to guide the consumer. Snow, autumn morning, etc. only partially do this. People recognise them but what do they actually smell of? 'Maninka fruit' represents a different but related problem - if few people have heard of it then it only serves to confuse rather than guide. Its only purpose here is to sound more exotic (and therefore desirable, as well as - possibly - more manly) than 'dried fruits, chocolate and strawberries'.

      • Zgb | 30th September 2015 10:46

        An interesting article about an uninteresting scent. Ok, it's not really THAT BAD, but seriously - it was already done by other houses, putting "maninka" aside.

        I'd say almost the same for Dior Sauvage (2015.). One could really make a good article about it, but that would hardly change my impression of that fragrance.

      • Puremugler | 10th October 2015 05:49

        I really enjoy this fragrance. Most have been very critical of it since its release but after the initial hatred wears away I think this will be a crowd favorite in the designer realm for a while