Scent (and More) of An ‘American Idol’

Not content merely to be a programming phenomenon, American Idol wants to be a marketing juggernaut as well. The Fox show—whose third season premieres tonight—is launching branded lifestyle clothes, eyewear and even a fragrance line.

The clothing, via Jerry Leigh Entertainment, will debut at Limited II, Old Navy (a show sponsor), Target and Wal-Mart stores as the season wraps in May. Items display the star logo or the show’s name on tops, pants and miniskirts.

Perfumes and body sprays, from Intersense/Beauty Innovations, are in JCPenney stores now and will roll out at Walgreens, Wal-Mart and CVS in March. The scents were tested with people in line to see the show. Details about the eyewear line are still being ironed out.

This push represents the third wave of licensing for American Idol, said Olivier Gers, svp at Freemantle, the Santa Monica, Calif., production company that handles licensing for the show. The first wave consisted of fan products such as hats and T-shirts; the second wave—coinciding with the launch of the second season—involved games, including a videogame. “Little by little, we’ve migrated the brand toward lifestyle products,” said Gers.

Gers said most of the products will be promoted locally by the retailers. Only the videogame, licensed by Codemasters, has been supported by dedicated ads, out of RDA in New York. Gers predicted more retail promotion this time around from sponsors AT&T Wireless, Coca-Cola, Herbal Essences, Old Navy and new partner Subway, which may participate in a co-promotion with Coke.

As for the lifestyle line, Gers said he’s hoping it won’t be considered overkill. “It’s the thing that keeps me up at night,” he said. “We’re very careful to keep it relevant.” But going a little too far might be just the right approach, he added: “I’m almost tempted to say it’s part of the campiness of the show.”