What Happened to Michael Jordan Cologne, the Best-Selling Fragrance of 1996?

Michael Jordan has firmly solidified his place in basketball history, thanks to his six NBA championships and was a five-time league MVP. In addition to all his accolades, he became one of the most marketable players of all time, with deals with Nike, Gatorade, and McDonald’s. “His Airness” even took it so far to launch his own cologne line back in the ’90s. While it did well initially, most consumers gave the cologne lackluster reviews — but that didn’t stop Michael Jordan from introducing more fragrances in the years to come. 

Be like Mike? Try his cologne

A salesgirl puts up a Michael Jordan cologne poster.
A salesgirl puts up a Michael Jordan cologne poster. | AFP via Getty Images

Back in 1996, Jordan’s cologne sold in department stores with prices ranging from $12 to $36 based on the bottle size. Behind the launch was a high-stakes advertising campaign from Bijan, the design house backing the product. The promotional campaign cost $20 million and featured a silhouette of Jordan’s head in all black cut against a red background. 

Although pricey, the marketing campaign worked, and within the first seven weeks, the cologne grossed $40 million in sales, SB Nation reports. As the top new fragrance that year, it even earned prestigious awards. The Fragrance Foundation coined it the Men’s Fragrance Star of the Year and Men’s National Advertising Campaign of the Year.

The initial ad campaign accounted for much of its buzz. The packaging, complete with Jordan’s silhouette, also featured a basketball on the bottle and his autograph on the outside of the box. Those factors, as well as the commercial promoting the product, led to high sales during the beginning launch period.

What were the scents and consumer reception?

Bestmenscologne.com ranks Jordan’s original scent as his best. Noted as clean and fresh, it features a blend of citrus and woodsy elements. The Michael Jordan Flight scent smells like a “Designer Imposter substitute.” With a spicy, citrusy mix, this blend is a bit bolder than the original but not intense and overpowering.

Michael Jordan Legend deviated completely from the other fragrances. With hints of leather, amber, and coffee, Legend is a warm and rich scent, reminiscent of higher-end colognes but with a smarter price point.

Although sales of the fragrance were staggering in the first few weeks, that doesn’t mean consumers loved it. Younger fans of the superstar quickly bought the cologne, overpowering the halls of their middle and high schools. But older buys typically passed it up for more well-known brands. 

What happened to Michael Jordan’s cologne?

Throughout his years of playing and all his endorsement deals, Jordan amassed a net worth of $1.6 billion. The sales from his fragrance line contributed millions to his bottom line. Although reviews weren’t the best, and the cologne was often given as a gag gift, it was still purchased in large amounts, with profits accumulating as the years went on.

But just as fast as it showed up on shelves, it disappeared. With a slew of celebrities and athletes saturating the market with their own fragrances, Jordan’s line wasn’t relevant anymore. Instead, he had to compete with the likes of Usher, David Beckham, and even Paris Hilton’s men’s line. After he retired and faded from the basketball limelight, his fragrance line went with him.

That doesn’t mean Michael Jordan’s cologne is gone forever. It’s still available for purchase from third-party Amazon sellers and major retailers like Walmart and Target. The price for the fragrance is very much discounted from its original markup, making it a great deal for anyone looking for a bit of nostalgia. Even if the cologne industry wasn’t Jordan’s most lasting legacy, it still doesn’t put a damper on his remarkable basketball career.

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