I'm a Belieber: Justin's New Perfume Ad Is a Joke but the Business Behind It Is Not

Last Updated Jun 6, 2011 3:41 PM EDT

If, like me, you're an adult, then you reacted to the ad for the new Justin Bieber fragrance "Someday" with a derisive chuckle. Go ahead, yuk it up, because Bieber will be withering from your collective scorn all the way to the bank.

The spot -- which logged nearly half a million views in just two days on YouTube, haters! -- wears its manipulation on its sleeve: In it, an attractive girl of indeterminate age sits in her bedroom, squirting herself with Someday. Then Bieber magically appears to sniff her neck. The pair are whisked up to the clouds, where Bieber/Peter Pan gives her an awkward piggyback ride. (The piggyback motif appears to have been stolen from the unisex fragrance launched in February by Khloe Kardashian and Lamar Odom.) It's not entirely clear if Bieber actually kisses the girl or merely nuzzles her, and there's a brief frame in which he looks really uncomfortable as the girl pulls him to her chest as if he's a small child or a teddy bear. When they land, he's wearing purple shoes:


Strictly from a creative viewpoint, the ad (by HOWL group) is a mess and would have made a good first cut if it had come from Coty or Chanel. But that's the wrong viewpoint. The ad promises everything Bieber's teenage fans could ever want: If they wear his scent while thinking about him in their bedrooms, he might show up someday. Bieber all but promises to track you down if you buy it, in his press release:
"SOMEDAY is the idea that we can change the world, make our dreams come true, and even be with the one person that means everything...
I wanted to create a fragrance for my female fans that I can't get enough of-- that I want to get next to and I can't stay away from.
The packaging is genius too: The bottle comes with a removable crystal heart lock and key, "so fans can carry his heart around with them wherever they go." Doesn't sound like much, but this totem -- which will probably be worn on a chain by fans -- allows Beliebers to identify each other at the mall without the need for a T shirt. It's a community building device, in other words.

The economics of the fragrance world are murky. Many of the top companies are privately held and the public ones often only contain fragrances as a sub-unit of their main business. Still, Coty -- which makes celebrity smells for Beyonce and Jennifer Lopez, reports it expects to hit sales of $4 billion this year. Fragrances are up generally, per Mintel.

But here's the real proof: Assume that behavior is a symptom of results, and that companies don't launch new products if they don't sell. Now consider that Britney Spears next perfume will be her tenth. It's bewildering, but it works.

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