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Santa Fe Mayor Getting a Whiff of the Big Sell

December 12, 1988|ROSE-MARIE TURK | Times Staff Writer

Sam Pick, the mayor of Santa Fe, N.M., cooks tacos on television these days--even though he feels he's better with turkeys.

But that's a small problem compared to sneaking his favorite cologne--Santa Fe by Shulton--into view. He has been on the road 3 1/2 weeks now, and "80% of the people on the shows don't even know the cologne is behind this," the mayor said, grinning with glee as he settles into a chair at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

He has just finished cooking tacos on Cable News Network's "Sonya Live in L.A." and is thrilled with the way he managed to work Santa Fe, the fragrance, into the spot. "I like to talk about the products, although I'm not required to," he explained.

His appearances in Houston, Sacramento, Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco and New York (where he cooked tacos with Regis Philbin earlier this month) are a fluke. His inadvertent romp started when Shulton launched the cologne and an after-shave about three months ago with an $8-million print and media campaign.

As part of its promotion, the company invited Santa Fe's mayor to a New York press conference for its product.

Pick was an instant hit: "Apparently, I made a humorous speech, and they decided I was someone they could use. I said my porridge cost $32 that morning, but I didn't mind because they threw some fruit on it."

He also told how hard it was getting to the gathering: "I asked the cab driver to take me to the Cafe Iguana, which is the in place, as I understood it. He never heard of the place and wanted to know, 'What's the Iguana?' I told him it's a lot like a lizard, which seemed to irritate him, because he asked me if I was trying to be some kind of a wise guy."

The cabbie called his dispatcher to find Cafe Iguana, which, as Pick told his audience, certainly surprised him, because "the drivers of all three cabs in Santa Fe know every restaurant."

Mutual Benefit

Shulton subsequently offered Pick $25,000 to plug Santa Fe, the city, to his heart's content. The mayor said he didn't want to be reimbursed for the pleasure, so at his suggestion the money went to Santa Fe's Fiesta Foundation.

Pick takes a goodie box to all the television shows. It includes bottles of Santa Fe (the cologne), packaged in Santa Fe brown, turquoise and silver; Christmas lights shaped like the red chili peppers grown in New Mexico; books about artist Georgia O'Keefe; packages of note paper with Santa Fe scenes; Santa Fe jewelry; a hand-carved coyote; and an apron printed with an homage to those peppers: "Bred on red, weaned on green."

The apron is deceptive. It helps Pick pitch the cologne. After he and Sonya Friedman made tacos on her show recently, Pick mentioned how messy cooking is, but added that it is, after all, "a man's job. I told her to give the apron to her husband, so he'll look good, and give him this cologne so he'll smell good."

(A Shulton spokesperson in New York says the after shave, $8.50 for 1.7 ounces, and the cologne, $15 for the 3.4-ounce size, are considered in the "mass prestigious" category and are sold in stores like J. C. Penney and Walgreen. The aroma is "an Oriental note with citrus and juniper berries.")

Colorful Background

Pick, born and raised in Santa Fe, was elected mayor a little less than three years ago, and his term runs until November, 1990. While he's never promoted a product before, he's "done a lot of things. I've been state chairman of the Democratic Party in New Mexico and a general's aide in the Army."

On the more offbeat side, there is his upcoming appearance in German Vogue. The magazine came to photograph colorful Santa Fe and posed the mayor "on a $11,000 Harley-Davidson in a $6,000 suit." He's also "tried out for the movies twice and failed." He had hoped to be a governor in "The Milagro Beanfield War" and a politician in the recent remake of "And God Created Woman."

After his election, he sold his interest in the family linen-supply business to devote time to his civic duties. Admittedly, he is "more flamboyant than most mayors," but he deals with the usual problems, including "how to pay for a new waste-treatment plant and how much to expand our roads."

Recently, he was one of six American mayors who visited China. Next, he's off to Bukhara, in the Soviet Union, recently chosen as Santa Fe's sister city. And when he hangs up his mayoral hat permanently, Pick knows exactly what he wants to do: "Some after-dinner speaking. I'd like that."

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