Gucci has just launched Gucci Guilty Pour Homme in the U.S. I always start my exploration of a new Gucci fragrance by reading Gucci PR news releases and interviews with Gucci execs; these mini-manifestos on perfume are guaranteed to prompt laughter (though they possess not a bit of wit) and a combo of shock and respect (all that Gucci cares about when it comes to a fragrance and its launch is making money…they don’t even try to convince us they regard perfume as an aesthetic creation). The pairing of Gucci with Procter & Gamble Co. over the last several years has produced some bland, inexpensive–smelling “luxury perfumes,” but the cash registers are humming. Gucci Guilty Pour Homme is expected to bring in $250 million in retail sales (globally) in its first year on shelves.1
Let’s start with humor. Discussing the success of the feminine Gucci Guilty launch last autumn, Tracy Van Heusden, senior beauty buyer, House of Fraser department stores, said, I…believe that the success of the launch is also due to the fragrance launching in [the fall]. We do see stronger results for fragrance launches in autumn and winter than in spring and summer, perhaps due to the desire for change that accompanies the change in the seasons.”2 Huh? There IS also an important change in the seasons from winter to spring…and an accompanying shift in “scent sensibilities” from dark, rich perfumes to lighter, brighter fragrances. But what do department stores know about perfume, anyway?
It seems Gucci’s Guilty franchise was conceived in the marketing department long before the Guilty perfumes were developed (since they are ultra-mainstream fragrances, one need not devote too much time to formulation, I suppose). For the women’s Guilty launch, Gucci designer Frida Giannini fashioned a 3-D advertising campaign featuring everything from iPad press kits to tailored e-cards to partnerships with MTV and Vogue. Many of these methods will be used in the Gucci Guilty Pour Homme launch.
Gucci Guilty Pour Homme (‘designed’ by Giannini, ‘blended’ by P&G’s fragrance-design team, in ‘collaboration’ with Givaudan…whew!) is classified as an aromatic fougère and lists fragrance notes of lime, lavender, pink pepper, cardamom, orange blossom, neroli, cedar, sandalwood and patchouli.
Gucci Guilty Pour Homme opens with a blur, or ‘smear,’ of notes; you can smell, all at once, limes, lavender, orange blossom and pink pepper: these notes are sheer but a bit “screechy.” There’s absolutely nothing noteworthy or new about the fragrance; in fact, it falls flat the moment it hits skin. There’s a hint of ozone freshness and sports fragrance herbal-menthol as the cologne develops, and these aromas make me think of “masstige” (drugstore) teen (boy) body washes. But perhaps that’s on purpose, because Gucci Guilty Pour Homme is targeting “the elusive social-networking consumer, a much-sought-after and slippery target that the [perfume] industry hopes can help revive its waning appeal.”3 Gucci will rely on Facebook, YouTube, Captain America4, and Evan Rachel Wood in its marketing efforts aimed at young men. (Gucci’s Facebook page has millions of followers.)
Annalise Quest, a general merchandise manager for beauty at Harrods, says it all…and says it best regarding the Gucci scent philosophy: “Gucci Guilty has all of the right ingredients — slick packaging using Gucci’s interlocking Gs, a very commercial and on-trend juice and a powerful marketing campaign. The customer is buying into the lifestyle and designs of Frida Giannini, and the marketing campaign behind Gucci [Guilty] is integral in bringing that lifestyle to life.”5
Too bad Gucci and Procter & Gamble always go the easy (and banal) route when creating perfumes. If they’d put their powerful marketing machine behind an adventurous fragrance, chances are it would succeed (after all, people ARE gullible: they buy stuff like Gucci by Gucci Pour Homme, Gucci by Gucci Sport Pour Homme, and Guilty, don’t they?). Gucci regards fragrance as just another place to stick those shiny interlocking Gs, but they admit it, happily, so how can I be upset?
Gucci Guilty Pour Homme Eau de Toilette sprays are available in 30 (?), 50 ($57) and 90 ($73) ml; other Guilty Pour Homme products include aftershave lotion, shower gel and deodorant spray.
Note: top image [altered] via Wikimedia Commons.
1. Women's Wear Daily, 1/7/2011.
4. actor Chris Evans.
5. Women's Wear Daily, 1/7/2011.