I’ve pinned the ads for a number of these fragrances up on my bulletin board, and handsome, masculine faces stare at me from behind Kenneth Cole Black, Stetson (yes, it’s back in…) Black and two Azzaro fragrances—Silver Black and Onyx. Armani Code is also up there with a dark, brooding face and a pretty, yet somewhat obscured, woman. Granted, the name,Code, doesn’t refer to the absence of color, but the packaging falls into the same void as the others. I found three of these ads in the same issue of a consumer magazine. If it wasn’t for editorial curiosity, I’m fairly sure the magazine would have found its way into the trash while I operated under the assumption that someone had a lot of marketing dollars to burn on multiple ads for the same fragrance in a single issue..
Besides the aforementioned fragrances, a quick Google search revealed Polo Black by Ralph Lauren and Ferrari Black Eau de Toilette. It seems to me that these fragrances are in danger of falling into a black hole on store shelves as well.
I’ve got a message for marketers: The rise of the “metrosexual” aside, we guys are rather thick when it comes to this kind of thing. We’ll stick with a product or fragrance once we’ve discovered and like it, but it’s going to take a whole lot more creativity to get most of us to realize that these are actually different products. I don’t believe our female better-halves will take the time to filter out the selections either – that’s the key role of packaging (under the guidance of marketing). I understand the need for simple packaging and masculine colors, but it’s a weak excuse not to strive for brand identity. I like my Guinness® black, but give me a little more credit for what will attract me to pick up a fragrance, give it a good whiff and walk with it in hand to the register.