Smells Like Pop Country: Perfume, Branding & Music

March 7, 2012 - By Trigger  //  Random Notes  //  26 Comments

When Tim McGraw launched his self-entitled “fragrance” in 2008 and was caught in the pose you can see to your left, it handed his detractors one juicy piece of propaganda. However contrived or sarcastic the moment was, it seemed to illustrate perfectly the unusual nature of having a star from a genre of music meant to represent and appeal to people from rural backgrounds, stooping to the level of peddling such urban finery as an eponymous fragrance.

Now Tim McGraw appears like a pioneer, as it might be easier to name the top tier mainstream country acts that do not have fragrances or perfume endorsements. McGraw’s wife Faith Hill has a whole line of fragrances, in fact the celebrity family has been at the forefront of product naming. In August 2011 Keith Urban launched the “Phoenix, Keith Urban” cologne. In October, Taylor Swift released the “Wonderstruck” perfume to go along with her lucrative Cover Girl endorsement. And just last month, Rascal Flatts debuted their own fragrance, along with plans to open a chain of restaurants.

So what’s up with all the toilet water and naming rights? Money is the easy and obvious answer, but it goes much deeper than that, to branding, and the immersion of that brand throughout society and culture. Millions of dollars are spent creating, promoting, and maintaining pop country’s big brand names like Taylor Swift and Rascal Flatts. To receive maximum returns from those investments, other avenues of revenue must be opened up beyond the music world and its traditional merch culture.

Tim McGraw & Faith Hill Barbie Dolls

As wildly popular and recognized as these pop country brand names are, artists cannot always have a hit single on the radio, or a brand new album out. So product naming allows the brand to smooth out the valleys between music releases, just like acting does, something both Taylor Swift and Tim McGraw have been involved in. Restaurants like Toby Keith’s “I Love This Bar & Grill” can help as well. Even if little or no revenue is generated from the branding, it still fortifies the strength of the brand name.

One likely reason we’re seeing an explosion of product naming and perfumes is because in the new reality of the music business, the album and single cycle is elongating. Tim McGraw and his label Curb Records have been at the center of this trend, with McGraw insisting they release his music, and Curb attempting to stretch its artists’ albums out to a release cycle of every 5 years. Cologne displays in big store chains keep that franchise name in the face of the public, like Tim McGraw’s “McGraw” cologne displays that have been prominent in Wal-Mart stores. So when new music does come out, the public is still familiar with the name, and no “comeback” strategy is necessary for their career.

It’s with that philosophy that I would like to announce the release of “Trig, by Trig” an exclusive fragrance for the discerning urban sex panther. It is available exclusively at Habib’s Cell Phone Emporium in Terre Haute, Indiana.

26 Comments to “Smells Like Pop Country: Perfume, Branding & Music”

  • Funny! Thanks for makin’ me grin!

  • Looks like I gotta take a couple hour drive to Habib’s lol.
    I’m just glad we’ve never seen Cash, Waylon, Willie or any of the other legends release a “fragrance.” Although I have no trouble picturing some company coming up with: “Willie by Willie Nelson” – “Smell like you just had the biggest clam bake in the world” lol.

    • Willie Nelson’s big endorsements are biodiesel and Farm Aid. Hard to argue with that.

      • No, I’ve got no problem with that. I think it’s great. I was just kidding. But I can definitely picture someone trying to sell him on the idea.

        • Sorry, that came across as accusatory. Just trying to contrast Willie’s side projects to the silliness above.

          • Isn’t Willie also involved with the Texas Roadhouse chain? They sell Willie Nelson bandanas with braided pig tails.

      • Well you also have Willie’s Place in Carl’s Corner (I think it’s gone now though), and of course Willie’s Roadhouse on Sirius XM.

  • that’s actually a really appealing design for a fragrance in my opinion…you should do it for real. I have no idea what sort of scent it would have tho, you certainly don’t want cliched “dust off a dirt road” or “hot rubber tire” or “old fishin’ creek” tones…

  • I feel stupid and contagious

  • They also have McGraw’s fragrance at Target. I sprayed the sample bottle on once…not too bad of a smell really haha.

    If I had a fragrance it’d smell like cheese spray and beef jerky with just a hint of blueberry. The kind of smell that says football on Sunday morning and orchard walks in the afternoon.

  • It’s only a matter of time before the Luke Bryan/Jason Aldean/Justin Moore fragrances come out. Slogans: “It’ll make country girls shake it for you!” “My Kinda Cologne!” “For true redneck badass outlaws only!” I can’t wait.

    • Give’em time , Rob .

  • i stay away from any of the add on fragrance stuff these days. though when i get famous i suppose i’ll have to trot one out. i’m leaning towards ‘old dago red’, the smell of very large redwood wine tanks oozing fine zinfandel. on another note, toby keith is opening one of his joints around these parts. we will try the BBQ once it’s open. it’s across the street from another BBQ place that has some of the best st. louie spare ribs going. should be interesting.

  • With the flow of cash this new venture is sure to generate , maybe McGraw won’t have to buy his t-shirts in the boys section anymore .

  • On one hand, I don’t blame the country pop tarts for capitlizing on their image, that’s business. On the other, it really blows that with all the good music available, the [wal mart shopping type] choose to spend that money on branded “fragrance” etc rather than music.


  • This makes total sense! I mean, of course, if you like someone’s music, you’ll want to smell just like them. Although, I must admit that, never in my entire life have I ever wondered what Steve Earle smells like.
    Anyway, to let you all know, I, too, will soon be releasing my own cologne, called FrackJuice. Essentially it’s a combination of Aqua Velva, Old Grand Dad, and the scent grilled pork fat. Does anyone have contact info for Habib? I’m gonna need a retail distributor…

    • reading this gave me a idea. ‘dead scents’ cologne. jimi, stevie ray, johnny, elvis, waylon, jfk. hell, the list could go on forever. or at least until the families hit the company with a cease and desist order. but by then ol’ habbib will have made everybody involved a ton of cash. no pun intended.

  • If you’re gonna smell like some kind of a man-whore, you will might as well smell like a man-whore whose brand you can recognize.

  • I’ve been waiting for the fragrance! I have my own, it’s called ‘Princess Carla’ and cost $4 at the local asian budget shop. It smells like a cross between toilet spray and sweet & sour pork. I use to to spray my stinky shoes. Anyway, the important thing is you know when you have your own signature fragrance: you’ve made it. Welcome to the club, Trig!

  • I stock electronics at Target at ungodly hours and I was doing the country cd section the other day and I was putting up Brad Paisley’s new album. The label underneath it “This Is Country Music $ $ $”. Just thought that was kinda funny.

  • I don’t agree with all the branding and endorsing celebrities do, but lets not pretend that our legends of country are above all this. Some of those “legends” put their name on or voice to some pretty “corporate” shit back in the day. Sure maybe it wasn’t perfume, but it was silly nonetheless.

    When you hit the big time level, no matter what era, you are a brand and that means business and that means cashing in. It doesn’t always mean selling out, but always means cashing in.

    Some are hung up here on McGraw and his fragrance, but he also lends his name to beer too (he was Bud Lights guy for a long time). I’m don’t think McGraw developed a fragrance in his basement and then shopped it around. Pretty sure someone said “hey, we want to put your name on a fragrance… smell it” Tim-”smells okay”. Company- “Great, here is a million dollars.” Tim- “okay, it isn’t hurting anyone. Good luck with it.”

    If you actaully think that the cologne company gives a shit about keeping his name on the front shelf at a store so his reocrds can sell when they are released, you got way to much conspiracy theory going on.
    The dude is a goodlooking guy, women like him. Women shop in the purfume section. Women want thier guy to be him, so women might buy the cologne. That is your consipracy.

  • No matter how much filthy lucre is being gathered up by mainstream country music cross marketing and branding it lags way behind hip-hip in the art of slapping you name on everything from sweat pants to high-end vodka.

  • Interesting article! I hadn’t thought of it like that.

  • Interesting article about Carrie Underwood refusing to brand a fragrance.

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