Is he not fragrant? On the scent of the New Lad

The Market

Which ads do you hate most in all the world? That awful Air Canada "home video" one? Soap powders? Ferro Rocher? Come on, that's nothing. When it comes right down to it, fragrance commercials are probably the worst genre of advertising on our screens, bar none. They're so bad that Boddingtons has thrown out an enormously successful spoof of them, all greased male bodies worshipping the sun in pseudo classical poses while heroic music stirs in the background. It's an advertising style that hasn't changed in years and probably jars so badly because the films are often made in Europe or the US then exported around the world.

Male fragrance Lynx has always been one of the guilty parties. No more, boasts brand manager Jeremy Kanter. "These days people want ads that don't patronise them. We're launching a new Lynx brand, Lynx Inca, and our marketing is a complete breakthrough. Our new ad is all animated, which is a first, and it's going to be tied in with all sorts of mad stuff that we'll be doing in clubs and bars across the country."

What he means by the "mad stuff" is Bar Inca, Fantazia and the Lynx Minxes. Bar Inca involves something so far unprecedented in the world of advertising - an advertiser actually setting up a nightclub. Initially a touring club, Bar Inca will come to rest in Soho on the site of the old Si Senor restaurant. Lynx has hired bands like Dodgy and The Prodigy to play, will deck the bar out in suitably South American style and will bring the touring Lynx Minxes back to roost in March.

The Lynx Minxes are, well, have a guess... Yup. They're four Latin American dancers who will perform sexy routines at Bar Inca and its on-the-road version, which pulls in at all the funky bars in most major conurbations. Of course, the Minxes also encourage young men to squirt a bit of the old Lynx Inca scent on themselves, and they'll also show up to dance at the climax event, which is Lynx's tie up with Fantazia.

Fantazia is the record label that produces the House Collection c ompilation albums that feature further saucily clad women on the cover and always get to No. 1 in the dance charts. The Lynx/Fantazia tie up will produce a 20,000 person party at the NEC, with all the Fantazia DJs and tunes and some ever so subtle Lynx branding on the fifth House Collection album.

Of course, the key to all this is adland's latest buzz phrase, the "advertising literate consumer". The ALC knows every trick in the advertiser's book and is desperately unimpressed if Soho creatives think they can just toss out a couple of pretty films and shift cartloads of gear on the back of it. ALCs want people to work hard for their attention and to realise that they know a can of Coca Cola isn't going to get them laid.

For Lynx, matters are further complicated by the rapidly expanding market for male deodorants. Last year, the total male scenty stuff market was larger than both the shampoo and the canned soup market, and it's all looking a bit threatening for the market leader and inventor of male deodorant in 1985. Lynx is fighting to stay top in the face of a sustained threat from the likes of CK1, Polo Sport and Insignia, despite having its scents crafted by the same fragrance house as all the Klein products.

"We need to prove to the consumers that we understand them and we are prepared to give them something back for their support for that,"says Kanter. "That's why we are working with Fantazia. The youth aren't impressed if you just tag along with something, you have to prove you are committed to it."

Will it work? Mark Ratcliffe, who heads up adland's leading youth consultancy, Murmur, is not sure. "What young people want is for commercial companies like Lynx to provide something that was not already there," he says. "It's no good just putting up posters in a club. That becomes wallpaper. If the Lynx idea is to succeed, Bar Inca will have to offer something really good and very different."

Stephen Armstrong

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