WWD.com

NEW YORK — Whimsical fashion brand Cacharel may have its roots in Paris, but its newest fragrance, Promesse, launching in August, is its first designed with the U.S. market in mind, according to L'Oréal executives.

"I think there's an enormous opportunity here with Cacharel," said Jack Wiswall, president of the designer fragrances division of L'Oréal USA, who said that he hopes to build Cacharel to be on par with L'Oréal's two fragrance powerhouses, Giorgio Armani and Ralph Lauren. "We really got our team to look at it from an American sensibility."


The ad for the american market.

While this "American sensibility" includes an ad campaign shot in Paris featuring French model Laetitia Casta, who was tapped by authorities to be the current official face of France (an honor once held by Catherine Deneuve and Brigitte Bardot), both a version of the ad visual and the fragrance itself were created to appeal to U.S. consumers, according to Richard Pinabel, assistant vice president of marketing, European designer fragrances, for L'Oréal. Pinabel explained that Promesse's bridal-inspired positioning, complete with a symbolic ring detail on the bottle's cap and visuals of Casta in a flirty, short "wedding" dress holding a bouquet on the cobblestone streets of Montmartre, capitalize on the very American fascination with saying "I do."



"The idea is all about a promise, the wedding concept," he said. "Just look at the bridal market — it's getting huge in the U.S." In addition, Pinabel said that the fragrance's name itself — so similar to its English translation — is more accessible to an American consumer. "The name is very clear," he said, admitting, "It's not easy to find a French name that is still understood in the U.S. market."

A less wedding-specific advertising campaign was developed for international markets, noted Marie-Paule Thauzies, general manager of L'Oréal's Cacharel-Guy Laroche International unit. In the international campaign Casta and Matthew Avedon, son of renowned lensman Richard Avedon, frolic in a romantic bedroom setting surrounded by sheer curtains and petals. "For the U.S. the wedding idea was the right way to be successful," said Thauzies. "[Internationally] we wanted something more allegorical and abstract."

Pinabel added that the juice itself is much more U.S.-friendly. "It fits very well with the trend of fruity floral fragrances that are still playing a big role in the U.S. market," he said. Created by Carlos Benaim and Sophie Labbe of International Flavors and Fragrances, Promesse is based on blackberry, according to executives. "[Blackberry] is fruity but it's also very tart, so it doesn't make it too sweet or sugary — it's very sparkling," said Pinabel. In addition, the juice features top notes of mandarin and bergamot, middle notes of sambac jasmine and orchid and bottom notes of amber, musk, cedar and sandalwood. The Promesse lineup includes a 1.7-oz. eau de toilette for $47.50 and a 6.4-oz. eau de toilette for $59.50, as well as a 6.7-oz. Perfumed Body Lotion for $38.50.

While executives would not comment on sales figures, industry sources expect Promesse to do up to $25 million in its first year at retail, with about $12 million to $15 million spent on advertising. The launch will be supported by 25 million scent strips, as well as vials, cards and a faux-pearl sampling bracelet, which features a detachable card with a sample of the scent. In addition, the company will use a new technology called True Scent, which features airtight packaging containing a pre-scented blotter card.

For now, Pinabel is confident that Promesse will help establish Cacharel as a strong U.S. presence for L'Oréal. "The DNA of the brand — lots of colors, happiness and femininity — is totally in line with the brands that are working in the U.S.," he said. "It's a matter of expressing it in the right way, and we're at a point now where we can make a real impact."