When Jennifer Lopez changed the celebrity perfume industry

A lot of superstars, from Angelina Jolie to Nicole Kidman or Margot Robbie, have served as the face of a luxury brand like Guerlain or Chanel, embodying women’s love for refined scents. But even many more celebrities have created their own fragrances like Cher who, in 1987, launched her Uninhibited perfume. Eager to experience the sophistication and glamour associated with the superstar, millions of women around the globe purchased the fragrance and other celebrities, such as Elizabeth Taylor or Naomi Campbell, had their own perfume empire. However, in the world of celebrity fragrance, nobody challenged and changed the industry like Jennifer Lopez.

In the early 2000’s, Jennifer Lopez was already a household name. One of the only women superstars to have a number one hit on the charts and a number one film at the box office and a bombshell that turned into a femme fatale. After all, don’t you remember the Versace dress with its risqué neckline that Jennifer Lopez wore to the Grammy Awards? At that time, Tommy Hilfiger launched MEFI (for Music Entertainment Fashion Inc.). The first celebrity he signed on was Jennifer Lopez. Later on, in April 2001, the formation of Sweetface Fashion Co., a partnership between Lopez and MEFI, was announced. It will serve as a vehicle for Lopez’s upcoming clothing line.

The collection did not sell very well. It was considered cheap and not really inspired by the star’s sense of style which is what fans and supporters were expecting. Quickly after that, Jennifer Lopez’s team met with Catherine Walsh to create her first perfume. As veteran of Estée Lauder, Walsh had just joined Lancaster as a senior vice president and was ready to start working in late 2001. She met with noses in Paris, discussed with Jennifer Lopez at several occasions to define the product and its packaging.

There was only one question : what name should we give to the perfume ? Jennifer Lopez opted for “Glow” which had to be attached to J.Lo, because legal advisors said that Glow was a protectable trademark. Meanwhile, the fragrance was being mixed and shipped to Lancaster’s manufacturing facility in Monaco and thousands of dollars were invested in advertising and the product was introduced to the press on June 2002. Glow by J.Lo was created by Louise Turner, a barely known perfumer who had previously created L’eau Chaumet and who would later formulate Love by Chloe and Carolina Herrera’s Good Girl. With notes of orange, jasmine, vanilla and musk, the scent is described by the star as “something that feels like you just came out of the shower and are the sexiest person in the world” and is packaged in a blinged-out bottle shaped like Lopez’s own famously curvy body. Walsh came up with the idea of having a J.Lo pendant around the bottle — a little something extra for her fans, which made a difference, visually speaking.

However, a Los Angeles-based fragrance manufacturer, Glow Industries, run by Terri Williamson filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against Jennifer Lopez, while Glow By J.LO made over $15 million in sales on its first month of sale in September 2002. Williamson wanted that Lopez and her company stop using the name in any way, shape or form as it can cause confusion. After all, Williamson’s products were just beginning to become quite popular with celebrities such as Reese Witherspoon, Julia Roberts or even Drew Barrymore. Even Pamela Anderson was so enthralled with Glow’s sandalwood scent that Williamson created a sandalwood perfume just for her but Elle quoted Pam Anderson as saying that she always carried Glow by J.Lo when in reality the actress was a fan of Glow Industries.

Glow by J.Lo was a major success. Women’s Wear Daily reported that “on the top-five list of nearly every major department store retailer is Lancaster’s J.Lo scent, called Glow.” Lancaster projected the sales would reach $100 million in its first year and it reach $300 million in three years ! On September 24, Williamson’s attorney filed a motion for a preliminary injunction, asserting that her brand was suffering irreparable harm and requesting that a judge intervene quickly. After all, Elizabeth Taylor’s perfume company had just lost to a Parisian company, Annick Goutal, for using the same name for her own fragrance.

But a few days before the big day in court, a dramatic turn of events happened. Since Williamson’s brand’s registration had not been finalized yet by the Patent and Trademark Office, Lopez’s team took advantage of this situation by acquiring an existing patent, Glow Kit, and this put Williamson in the awkward situation of infringing on Lopez’s patent! Ultimately, the judge denied the request for a preliminary injunction because of insufficient evidence of consumer confusion between the two brands and the two companies had reached a settlement that included dismissing the pending claims and counterclaims. 

Then, Lopez went on to launch more and more fragrances, inspiring some other celebrities such as Jennifer Aniston, Celine Dion, Lady Gaga, Madonna, sometimes using her own music video to promote them. Glow By J.Lo has now different flankers like Love at first Glow, L.A Glow, Glowing, Forever Glowing, Rio Glow and even Miami Glow. Paper Magazine dubbed Glow By J.Lo “the best celebrity perfume of all time” and Lopez has recently launched a new perfume called Promise. So far, Jennifer Lopez’s perfume have appealed to different generations of customers, men and women, young adults, babies and teenagers.

This success story is living proof of the power of celebrities. Putting your name on you personal brand can be risky but with the right team, the right ideas, the right targeting and at the right time, anything is possible. It’s all about what you want to tell, what your core values are and how you plan to market your product, especially if that product is personal, like a bottle of perfume. And what happened since Jennifer Lopez’s debut perfume ? Lots of brands were created based on the same kind of marketing plan such as Drew Barrymore’s Flower but not everybody’s experience compares to Jennifer Lopez’s. After all, her perfumes are sold entirely on the bottle and her fame, since customers have to order them online without sniffing them. And they’ve all sold out.

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