Marketing experts tell us that negative headlines get much more attention: ”Negative superlatives work 30 percent better at getting your attention than positive ones. The average click-through rate on headlines with negative superlatives was a staggering 63 percent higher than that of their positive counterparts.” Even negative reviews can boost sales. A prominent example is a $60-a-bottle Tuscan wine that enjoyed a 5% spike in sales following a popular online reviewer who characterized its aroma as “stinky socks.” In conclusion, there is no such thing as bad publicity. Yet, it is not clear whether the recent media buzz about a celebrity scent is still under control:
Helene Fischer is a German singer and entertainer. Since her debut in 2005 she has won numerous awards, including seventeen Echo awards, four “Die Krone der Volksmusik” awards and three Bambi awards. In 2014, she announced the launch of her first own celebrity fragrance: “That’s me”. What an amazing essentialism! What a commitment! Moreover, Fischer’s announcement was certainly not an early move. At this time the hype about celebrity fragrances was already over. Her management might have hoped for an renaissance of celebrity fragrances. But this is speculation. According to Fragrantica and Basenotes there seems to be nothing special about the scent. No debate. Hardly any reviews. In the mean time Helene Fischer launched two additional scents: “Me, Myself & You” in 2015 and earlier this year “For you” (2018).
Apparently, the scents are remarkably inconspicuous. Hardly anybody feels the urgency to talk about the scent. It is not listed on Fragrantica or Basenotes. There is not even a single star on Amazon – no review, no comment. In our current attention economy this is a disaster.
How can you create some media buzz about a scent hardly anybody cares about?
At this point manufacturing some scandal is an option. And interestingly, it is the list of ingredients and warning signs an online drugstore uses that serves as the not so perfect trigger. For the last few days major tabloids have featured the scent and the warning signs the German DM chain used on its website: Drugstore warns against celebrity fragrance! Wear your face protection!
What is interesting about the current media buzz is the widening focus of the coverage. Thus, other scents and celebrities and their perfumes are scrutinized as well. Accordingly, warning signs have also been used to label Christiano Ronaldo’s perfume etc.
What started out as a story about an almost ridiculous post on an online retailer can easily grow into a broader debate on the health implications of perfume use (including some longlasting effects for the industry at large). There are stakeholders out there that challenge the fragrance industry and question its fundamental license to operate. Ingredient disclosure is a response to stakeholder expectations – but is it sufficient? At this point it is apparent that there is more at stake than “For You” by Helene Fischer.
To sum up: I believe there can be bad publicity.