Madonna delights fans with Macy’s No 1 ‘Truth or Dare’ fragrance

By Charlotte Turner |

Coty Prestige officially launched Madonna’s debut fragrance, ‘Truth or Dare’ in New York at Macy’s department store, last week. The Business flew to the States to meet the global icon and review what is already Macy’s no 1 scent.


Truth or Dare by Madonna debuts exclusively at Macy’s in April 2012 in the United States, with global distribution beginning in May. It’s expected to go into 800 doors in travel retail worldwide.


Coty Prestige announced in November of last year, that it signed an agreement with MG Icon LLC, a joint venture between Madonna, Guy Oseary, and Iconix Brand Group, Inc, to launch the icon’s first fragrance.


“Madonna is the marquis addition to Coty’s unrivaled brand portfolio and further establishes us as cutting edge leaders in the global beauty industry,” Bernd Beetz, CEO, Coty Inc said. “We are thrilled to embark on this new venture with Madonna, a global icon with unprecedented star power and cultural relevance.”


On Thursday evening a select group of journalists – including The Business and one other member of the travel retail trade press – joined throngs of ‘die-hard’ Madonna fans outside Macy’s where the star walked the red carpet and then answered questions from fans/consumers.


The atmosphere was electric while a mixed demographic audience awaited her arrival. The crowd was suitably energised by an impressive sound system manned by a dj playing a mixture of Madonna’s hits as well as other popular music.


The singer revealed during a group interview – which followed the consumer press conference – that her taste in fragrance was expensive. “I was really trying to recreate the authentic smell of a rose…I used to live in the English countryside and there were wild roses there, which were verging on narcotic.


“I tried to recreate that and even extract something from the actual rose bushes, but we could never recreate the smell so I decided to go back to Gardenias, which I always have around me [Madonna associates the smell of Gardenias with her mother-Ed]. This was not so difficult to recreate so I was happy about that.”



When asked what outfit would be best worn with her new fragrance, her answer was typically risqué. “[It would have to be] a black corset and fishnets…why not?” And when asked how important the duty free market was to the fragrance brand she was frank. “A lot of people travel so I would say it’s pretty important…I think someone should create a product, which wouldn’t make you feel completely and utterly dehydrated [when you fly]. I’d like to spray it all over myself, my hair and skin.”


The commercial for the new fragrance was debuted on Macy’s Herald Square Jumbotron on 02 April, in New York, and was met with a mixed reaction.

As always the transformative artist initiated a tidal wave of controversy from the world’s media with her provocative advert, which featured the star in black underwear reminiscent of her look in the acclaimed 1991 American documentary film ‘Madonna: Truth or Dare’.


[Madonna pictured with Catherine Walsh, Senior Vice President of American Fragrances for Coty Prestige]


The film chronicling the life of the American singer-songwriter during her 1990 Blond Ambition World Tour, was generally well-received by critics and was successful at the box office, becoming, at that point, the highest-grossing documentary of all time with a worldwide gross of $29,012,935. It remains the eighth highest-grossing documentary of all time.


The global print, television, and online marketing campaign was produced in collaboration with Fabien Baron of Baron & Baron – who she has worked with on many projects including ‘Sex,’ her 1992 pictorial essay on sexuality.


By inviting two representatives from the travel retail press to the exclusive launch of the new fragrance, it is clear that Madonna and business partner Coty Prestige are looking to make a splash in the duty free market.

Markus Stauss, Coty Marketing Director Travel Retail & Export Worldwide [pictured above with Editor, Charlotte Smith] told The Business that the media attention for this launch had been phenomenal. “As soon as word got out that Madonna was launching a fragrance, the news was all over Twitter, Facebook and everywhere. And it has been positive.”


Coty is well aware of Madonna’s global status and appeal, which makes selling her fragrance that bit easier. But Stauss is adamant that it is ultimately the quality of the juice, which determines the success or failure of a fragrance launch. “Customers might buy the fragrance because they are fans, for sure, but those who are not inspired by the actual smell of the fragrance will not buy it. In the end it has to be about the quality and appeal of the juice.”


Stauss says that, like with all the company’s celebrity fragrances, Coty takes the launch and the holistic marketing approach very seriously. “It’s not just about putting their name on the bottle. It’s much more than that.”



And its not just about making the product commercially viable; Stauss reveals that the unique blend of Gardenias, Amber and Vanilla musk, which Madonna selected, is not one that will appeal to all markets. “This blend may not appeal so much to the Asian market, but that’s why, for this fragrance, we are focusing more on the Anglo-Saxon markets [UK, US, Germany] and Europe.”


‘Truth or Dare’ is described as a signature floral fragrance. “Its unique blend of narcotic florals, balanced with addictive woods and vanilla, creates a scent that is timeless, yet contemporary, simultaneously dark and light,” says Coty.


Base notes include Vanilla Absolute, Amber and Musk balanced by Jasmine, Benzoin Tears and White Lily Petals topped off with Gardenia, Tuberose and Neroli.


The bottle plays up the Truth or Dare duality – a classic and sophisticated shape, with modern and edgy detailing. “We can be tricked by what we see and hear but not by what we smell,” said Madonna.



She continues: “There is something primal and mystical about the sense of smell. It connects us to memory, nostalgia and the ability to dream and fantasise.”


“I have always been obsessed by fragrance and for years wanted to create something personal that was an expression of me, but that other people could relate to as well. Something classical and timeless and yet modern.”


“My oldest memory of my mother is her perfume. I carry it with me everywhere. She always smelled like Gardenias and Tuberose. An intoxicating mixture. Feminine and mysterious.


“I wanted to recreate this scent but with something fresh and new about it as well. Something honest and yet daring. Hence the name Truth or Dare.”



Michele Scannavini, Coty Prestige President, comments: “Madonna is an artistic phenomenon whose vision has helped define the cultural zeitgeist for nearly three decades.


“Her fans around the world have an unparalleled devotion and will be eager to experience a unique, and more personal, materialization of her talent.”


“Madonna is a globally recognized music and style pioneer. The debut of her first fragrance is a dynamic platform to launch her lifestyle brand, Truth or Dare by Madonna,” commented Neil Cole, CEO, Iconix Brand Group. “Coty is a respected leader in the prestige fragrance industry. Their expertise coupled with Madonna’s iconic status is a powerful partnership.”


The scent will be available in a 75ml EDP ($68 / €62), 50ml EDP ($55 / €46), 30ml EDP ($39 / €35), Body Lotion ($28 / €22), and Shower Gel ($24 / €21).


A full report, including a travel retail exclusive interview with the perfumer behind ‘Truth or Dare’ will appear in the May issue of The Travel Retail Business.

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