Thursday, April 30, 2009

Coty’s Bernd Beetz Sure Showers a Lot

We just got around to reading Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan’s alarming Wall Street Journal interview with Coty Inc. CEO Bernd Beetz. It appeared last week under the heading “Tricks of the Trade.” (Hmmm . . . ) We decided to present the FirstNerve annotated version as a public service so you won’t have to keep slapping yourself on the forehead.
Men’s fragrances come in the form of cologne, aftershave, eau de toilette, body spritzes, deodorants and more these days, so figuring out a scent-application strategy can be confusing. [OMG soooooo confusing! It’s even more confusing than EBITA or discounted future cash flow or the Black–Scholes formula for valuing my stock options.] Bernd Beetz, chief executive officer of fragrance company Coty Inc., says he tries to keep it simple.

Mr. Beetz, who says he has been using fragrance daily since he started wearing aftershaves and body sprays at about 14 [TMI, BB], begins his fragrance application in the morning by using a scented shower gel in the shower [The guy’s 58 years old Ms. Tan—thanks for that mental image], followed by a splash of aftershave on both cheeks [of his face or . . . ?]. He then puts on just one spritz of cologne—which he favors because it’s slightly less concentrated than eau de toilette—on his chest and then another on his neck. [What? Doesn’t he babypowder his balls like the rest of us?]

Even when he has a long day ahead, he is careful not to apply more than that. Anything more, he says, would be too overpowering and possibly a distraction in meetings [Fer sure, dude, all the creatives would be salivating during your Powerpoint, and the women too.] “I’d rather bring a small-sized bottle with me and refresh myself in the office, rather than go too strong in the morning by loading up and then hoping it lasts the day,” he says. [At FirstNerve headquarters we refresh ourselves with a small-sized bottle of Wild Turkey from the desk drawer.]

When it comes to the fragrance itself, he has specific types that he favors for three different occasions. When preparing for his workday, he likes scents with notes like peppermint and jasmine that are fresh and clean and conjure up thoughts of the ocean. [Ah, yes, the peppermint-scented breezes of the North Sea.] “It lifts the spirit—I think that’s very important,” he says.

Mr. Beetz, who works out by rowing, running or playing tennis four to five times a week, chooses a sportier scent that smells “lemony” when he’s applying fragrance after a post-workout shower. [The guy runs Coty and the best fragrance adjective he can summon is “lemony”? Dude, how about slinging a little bergamot or blood orange or even citrus for pity’s sake?]

For social occasions such as gala events and parties, he picks colognes that are deeper and muskier. “I like nutmeg and cedar scents—they’re very spicy and woody,” he says, noting that if he is going to an event after a work day, he tries to shower before heading out so as not to mix his heavy evening scent with his lighter day fragrance. [He showers before work, again after exercising, and yet again before going out. OCD much?]

He also applies more scent when going to social events, using two spritzes each on his chest and neck, instead of one. “I indulge myself a little more,” he says. [Oh go wild, you mad impetuous beast, use THREE squirts.]

Although Mr. Beetz has about 100 men’s fragrances (since he works for a company that has developed thousands for labels like Marc Jacobs), he is careful not to mix his scents. He always makes sure that the combination of aftershave, cologne and moisturizer he uses are of the same fragrance. [Odds are he also coordinates his wrinkle filler, lip gloss, and Car Freshner. At FirstNerve we set the bar lower—we try not to mix WD-40 and paint stripper.]

“Mixing scents is the most common mistake that men make,” he says, [Really? More common than dating the hot chick in accounting who has herpes?] noting that the jumble of different scents can sometimes produce a smell that’s less than desirable. [But at the annual FirstNerve dregs party the jumble is sometimes totally awesome.]

Another common mistake that he cautions men against: “Don’t use products (like shampoo, soap or shower gel) of your girlfriend or wife that are standing around the bathroom,” he says. [True that. We try not to use the bathroom when our girlfriend or wife is standing around, and we NEVER use her Summer’s Eve.] and “The scents are so different (from men’s scents), it just messes you up.” 

Mr. Beetz is careful to store his spritzers in his closet, away from damaging sunlight and heat, and he says that the fragrances should last for a couple of years if kept in this fashion. [We like to keep our fragrances in the ammo cabinet: it’s cool, dry and sparkproof.]

Finally, while the sheer number of scents that are available can be flummoxing, he urges men to think about their own identities when choosing a fragrance; they’re more likely to use it if they’re comfortable with it. “It should fit your personality: If you’re an outdoors man, try something woody, for example,” he says. [Bernd, if you’re an outdoors man you don’t spritz because the seven point bucks pick up the scent and avoid your platform.] “You should think about your attitude towards life—don’t be someone you’re not.” [Like an empty corporate suit mouthing banalities.]

UPDATE May 2, 2009

Hey, BB, here’s a way to be.


Anonymous said...

Great piece, I often find similar thought going through my head when reading interviews or PR hype like this, not to mention most of the news commentaries, impotent political announcements and, well you know, all of it, in our oh so BS infused times.

Nathan Branch said...

That whole thing was hysterical -- both your comments and his!

"At FirstNerve headquarters, we refresh ourselves with a small-sized bottle of Wild Turkey from the desk drawer."


And you're right -- "lemony" from the CEO of Coty? That wasn't an interview, it was free advertising.

Avery Gilbert said...


PR has its place--what's weird is he doesn't seem to know his audience. It's the WSJ not the Ladies Home Journal.


I've had a great time in this business but you have to wonder if the industry isn't spritzing itself in the foot. When your premise is that men find "scent-application strategies" too confusing to figure out, you've alienated your potential consumer before he's even popped the overcap.

Imagine Home Depot telling guys it's tough to find the correct nail . . . but that the CEO likes 1/2" brads for the trim on his display case of Hummel figurines. Dude! We wanna hear about dry wall and two-by-fours.

Olfacta said...

In the backwoods deer-hunting country round here, they sell something called "deer spray." This is supposed to attract those seven-point bucks to the guy on the platform, with the little bottle of Wild Turkey, his state-of-the-art deer rifle and his head-to-toe camo outfit (with matching boots!) by making the buck think that he is a doe.

I am not making this up.

Perhaps a spritz of deer spray is what the real outdoorsman will wear.

Of course I doubt he'd have a "scent application strategy." Bet the buck does, though.

Very funny!

Anonymous said...

The François Coty was first that created perfumes of wide consumption. He named chypre perfume

Anonymous said...

LOL-ing at "Ah, yes, the peppermint-scented breezes of the North Sea"

Having *just* found your blog today, I am off to buy your book (which I have wanted for quite awhile...)

Thanks for the great info and the laughs.

Avery Gilbert said...


Welcome to the blog. I'm happy to have tickled you into a purchase decision. Happy reading!