Sunday, December 12, 2010

Celebuscents: A peek behind the press release

We haven’t watched much TV at FirstNerve Manor since that meteorite took out the aerial on the north belfry back in ’02. So excuse us if we are not totally up to the minute on Jordin Sparks’ claim to celebrity status based on a show called American Idol. That’s why we just yawned when she announced the launch of her celebuscent in October.

What did grab our attention was last Thursday’s press release noting that her perfume, Because of You, had snared a 2010 WWD Beauty Biz Award for “Best Executed Launch Strategy.” The award-winning strategy was to go out at a $9.50 retail (2.5 oz.) exclusively at the Dots clothing chain through November, then rise to $14.95 while expanding to a broader distribution.

An award after two months on the market? That makes us want to know who’s behind Because of You. According to the press release it’s an outfit called Apra International LLC.
Apra is a leading fragrance company known for creating high-quality, affordably priced celebrity/designer fragrances. By introducing up and coming celebrity fragrances at affordable prices, Apra plans to carve out a piece of mass market fragrance sales by giving its consumer base something that the other leading market fragrance companies cannot offer due to their competitor’s inefficient cost structure.
A leading fragrance company? Uh . . . just one we’ve never heard of until now. Apra International LLC googles mostly to Jordin Sparks press releases.Then we figured this might be something to go on:
“We are honored to receive this award for the launch of our first celebrity fragrance endeavor and thank Jordin Sparks for making this amazing partnership possible”, says Ezriel Polatsek, CEO of Apra.
Unlike Apra International, Ezriel Polatsek googles quite well. In fact, he’s been in WWD before, on June 18, 2008:
Estée Lauder, Clinique File Suit Against Preferred Fragrance

The Estée Lauder Cos. Inc. and Clinique Laboratories Inc. have filed a lawsuit against Preferred Fragrance Inc. alleging trademark infringement in connection with alleged knockoffs of Lauder-branded fragrances.

The lawsuit, filed in Manhattan federal court on June 11, also alleges unfair competition, false advertising and dilution. Other named defendants include Preferred’s owner, Izriel Polatsek, also known as Ezriel Polatsek; CVS Inc.; CVS Pharmacy Inc. and CVS Caremark Corp.; Family Dollar Stores Inc., and John Does 1-10.

The lawsuit said that Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Preferred is a “known infringer that previously has copied — and previously has been sued for its copying of — famous perfume brands.” It said the Brooklyn firm appropriated Lauder’s marks for its own use for its line of knockoff products that it has begun selling or soon will sell for the holiday 2008 season in stores such as CVS and Family Dollar.
Previously sued for copyright infringement? That would seem to refer to Elizabeth Arden Inc v. Preferred Fragrance Inc, filed June 17, 2005 in the Southern District of Ohio.

In fact, suing Preferred Fragrance Inc. seems to be the in thing: Ed Hardy’s people filed a Federal complaint against them last February.

A rare non-press release Google hit for Apra International LLC provides an address in upstate New York. Google-map the address and it turns out to be the same as that of—wait for it—Preferred Fragrance Inc.

So let’s see if we have this straight: as owner of Preferred Fragrance Inc., Ezriel Polatsek has pissed off Estée Lauder, Elizabeth Arden and Ed Hardy; as CEO of Apra International LLC, he is given an award and PR bonanza by fashion industry journal WWD.

If you think this all smells a bit odd, we’re inclined to agree.


Nathan Branch said...

"Fashion writers, like any other commentators on artistic work, should be critics rather than popular cheerleaders. Loving frocks and the world of showbiz personalities are not enough . . . (fashion) journalism has allowed itself to become dependent on advertising revenues – which can, of course, be withdrawn if comments displease." -- Colin McDowell

It would seem that WWD loves the world of "frocks and showbiz personalities". Actual journalist research isn't quite so glamorous.

Anonymous said...

They are represented by 5WPR, a leading NY PR agency and there is zero doubt its because they are connected and involved in beauty. For sure had to be 5WPR.

Anonymous said...

Maybe 5WPR paid someone - Should we look into it ?

Avery Gilbert said...

Nathan Branch:

Trade publications are in a delicate spot because their subscribers belong to the industry they are reporting on. I don't fault WWD here--I just enjoy the delicious contrast between its two stories . . .

Avery Gilbert said...


I'd have to say that 5W Public Relations did a pretty effective job in this instance.

Anonymous said...

5WPR did amazing beauty work - amazing work and say congratulations to 5WPR