Shopping in drug stores has been a favorite pastime of mine since I was quite young. You never know what treasures or oddities you might run into simply by digging around, usually at bargain prices. I think my fascination began with an old Ben Franklin five and dime store my family frequented back in Connecticut, representing a veritable treasure trove of goodies for a youngster to discover at discounted prices. Today’s drug stores are the natural successors to Ben Franklins and I still find myself snooping around looking for the odd product here and there. Recently, I found myself in the women’s perfume aisle. I was, of course, familiar with the big brand names but I was surprised to discover a display of perfumes as touted by female celebrities of the day including Beyoncé, Faith Hill, and many more. This surprised me as I did not know their talents extended to the development of fragrances, or “parfumes” as they call it to denote an air of sophistication (try saying this with a southern twang and it sounds less than impressive).

I’m not sure who started the celebrity branding of perfumes, but I cannot help but believe Elizabeth Taylor was an early contributor with her “White Diamonds”, “Passion”, and “Passion for Men.” Her notoriety as both a major Hollywood star and sex symbol made her an effective pitchman for her products, most of which were reasonably priced to attract consumers who couldn’t afford the expensive perfumes. Since Taylor, there have been many other celebrities follow in her footsteps. To illustrate, in the local drug store I found the following:

Singer and actress Beyoncé offers “Heat,” “Pulse,” and “Heat-Rush.” I found her advertising interesting, “I want women to feel sexy, strong, empowered and I want them to feel like they can conquer anything. When they walk into a room, I want them to feel like they can leave a lasting impression on everyone they walk past.” Presumably, she wants people to exude confidence as a result of using her fragrances, perhaps even cockiness.

Actress Halle Berry features her “Reveal” perfume which is described as “Some mysterious. Some open. Some earthy. Some glamorous. In the spotlight. In twilight. In candlelight. Always seductive. Always natural.” I guess this last description was a pitch for people who think “green.” They forgot to add, “Sometimes a good buy. Always on sale.”

Country singer Faith Hill’s “Truth” perfume is, “An invigorating fresh new scent for a fresh new you. Embracing a tantalizing blend of exotic botanicals, you can enjoy this refreshingly light fragrance alongside our debut fragrance.” Frankly, this message sounded to me like a commercial for “Tide” laundry detergent.

Canadian singer Celine Dione offers a line of perfumes named, “Sensational,” “Brilliance,” and “Signature.” She describes it as, “I want my fragrance to bring joy and inspire us all to seize the day and live life to its fullest.” At first, I wasn’t sure if she was describing a perfume or a Tony Robbins motivational speech.

As I was to discover afterwards there were several other celebrity perfumes including those offered by Jennifer Lopez, Kate Moss, Sarah Jessica Parker, and many other talents I’m too old to recognize. Interestingly, all were manufactured by Coty, Inc. This leads me to believe the celebrities are only allowing the company to use their names to move product as opposed to them actively involved in the development of the perfume, and if the price is right, Why not? These may be fine singers and actresses, but you don’t seriously believe they were suddenly imbued with scientific knowledge to create an irresistible fragrance do you? Surely singer Susan Boyle or Democratic Rep. Nancy Pelosi are smart enough to create an alluring fragrance, but I do not see anyone clamoring for their scents. Maybe we should wait for the Hillary collection?

As we should all know, people do not buy these products as advertised, regardless of the verbosity of BS used. They buy them because it is a vain attempt to capture the essence of their favorite star, that maybe someone will confuse them for Halle Berry or Celine Dione. Sure. Wouldn’t it be amusing to discover the celebrities do not actually wear their own perfumes, that they wouldn’t be caught dead wearing that “cheap crap”? Well, in the end, it doesn’t matter. It’s all about image, it’s about perceptions, it’s about money.

As long as we have celebrity fan clubs and a tabloid media, there will always be a market for celebrity perfumes.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at [email protected]

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Copyright © 2011 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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