By  on August 2, 2007

LOS ANGELES — Reese Witherspoon is going global with Avon Products Inc.

The direct-sales company announced Wednesday that the 31-year-old actress has agreed to a multiyear deal to be spokeswoman for Avon's beauty brands and representatives, and honorary chairman of the Avon Foundation focusing on breast cancer, domestic violence and emergency relief initiatives.

Avon declined to disclose terms, but industry sources estimate Witherspoon could be paid $1 million-plus a year to be the company's so-called "global ambassador."

"There is such power in the idea of empowering women through making them feel good and building their self-esteem," said Witherspoon, clad in a white Nina Ricci top and skirt, during a press conference at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel. "Avon does a good job of that, not only in the products, but also in working with the Foundation."

Andrea Jung, Avon's chairman and chief executive officer, has been spearheading a corporate turnaround effort characterized by cost-cutting at the organizational and infrastructure levels, and increases in Avon's advertising budget and outreach to celebrities and designers. Witherspoon is the linchpin of "Hello Tomorrow," Avon's first global advertising campaign, which was launched in March.

"It was an important decision for us to decide to have a global ambassador, which is a very new, first-time role in 121 years," said Jung in an interview following the press conference. "Reese was at the top of our list. She is an extraordinary actress, an incredible producer and the ultimate working mother. Very importantly, [she is] accessible, approachable and, I think, shares the vision, the values of the company and the dreams of women."

Avon quickly has been building up its contingent of Hollywood spokespeople. Jennifer Hudson was brought on to front Avon's Imari fragrance brand, and Lauren Conrad teamed up with Mark, Avon's makeup line tailored to women 18 to 24 years old. Last year, Avon's advertising budget increased 83 percent, and Jung reported the company would boost the budget by 50 percent this year.

"As we go forward, we continue to keep the brand extremely relevant, and that involves everything from product innovation and making sure that — whether it is product delivery, packaging [or] convenience — we are always on the latest and greatest trends," said Jung. "When you add that Reese will be the spokesperson for the brand, we really believe that we can keep the brand on the forefront, not just of the American consumer, but the global consumer, as well."Witherspoon said she would be starting on the advertising campaign "soon," and Jung expects that the "Walk the Line" star's ads would begin running early next year. Avon plans to have Witherspoon involved in product development, but what exactly she will contribute is unclear. Jung kept mum on the products that would be launched next year in tandem with the Witherspoon-centered advertising.

"I know a lot of women who need really great beauty products. I want to focus on what women are really wanting and out there looking for," said Witherspoon in a post-press conference interview when asked about her product-development input. "Also keeping it affordable, but really high quality, I think that is really important."

Witherspoon's charitable work for Avon kicked off Wednesday afternoon, with the actress meeting women training for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. "It is a very multifaceted role that I am going to be playing," she said. 

Inter Parfums SA Buys Lanvin Division

PARIS — Inter Parfums SA has acquired Lanvin SA's fragrance and cosmetics business for 22 million euros, or $30 million at current exchange.

A buyback option, which can be implemented on July 1, 2025, and a technical assistance and design agreement are part of the deal.

Lanvin said in a statement the sale was made to ensure it has the investment required for the ongoing development of its ready-to-wear and luxury accessories, which are experiencing "very significant growth."

Philippe Benacin, chairman and managing director of Inter Parfums SA, the Paris-based subsidiary of Inter Parfums Inc., told WWD he is "very excited" about the agreement, which allows for even "more room for creativity" when it comes to Lanvin beauty products. He also confirmed that on the marketing side, there will be no major changes made to the business; Inter Parfums executives will continue working closely with Lanvin designer Alber Elbaz on upcoming, high-end products.

Early next year, Inter Parfums is slated to launch a flowery women's scent from Lanvin, followed by a new feminine fragrance line at the end of 2008.

Lanvin and Inter Parfums SA inked a beauty licensing agreement in June 2004. It was a 15-year deal that included an up-front licensing fee of 16 million euros, or $21.8 million; Lanvin's existing inventory, which totaled 6 million euros, or $8.2 million; advertising expenditure, and royalty payments.For the first half of 2007, Lanvin's fragrance business rose 14 percent to 15.6 million euros, or $20.7 million, thanks to a 40 percent jump in sales of its Eclat d'Arpege line. Other Lanvin fragrances include Lanvin, Arpege and Rumeur.

Inter Parfums has the fragrance licenses for brands such as Burberry, Lanvin, Paul Smith, Quiksilver-Roxy and Van Cleef & Arpels. — Jennifer Weil

True Religion to Expand Into Scents

LOS ANGELES — True Religion Apparel Inc. signed a licensing deal with Selective Fragrances to launch fragrances for men and women in fall 2008, as the premium denim maker expands its business beyond jeans amid tepid sales.

True Religion, based in Vernon, Calif., said the two scents will be sold in its own stores as well as national department stores, including Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom, Bloomingdale's and Barneys New York. It also will target more than 1,000 specialty stores, such as Sephora and Ulta. Supplementing its distribution strategy will be an international rollout to Europe, Japan, Australia, South America and other foreign markets, in addition to duty free stores in the U.S. and Caribbean.

Though True Religion didn't disclose terms of the licensing agreement, the deal is intended to help lift its relatively flat sales and put it closer to its goal of becoming a lifestyle brand. In the first quarter, True Religion's net income fell 35 percent to $4.2 million from $6.5 million, as expenses for retail and other operations surged 67 percent. First-quarter net sales rose less than 2 percent to $36.1 million from $35.6 million a year ago.

True Religion said Selective will spend about 20 percent of sales on advertising and marketing. It also said Selective is working with perfumers from Givaudan to produce the fragrances, which are in the preliminary development stages, with nearly 24 working formulations. — Khanh T.L. Tran

Bare Escentuals Lists $20.2M in 2Q Earnings

Bare Escentuals Inc. posted second-quarter sales that beat Wall Street's expectations, but reaffirmed its full-year earnings guidance range below consensus estimates.

"We achieved sales growth of 29 percent as we developed more points of distribution and satisfied the growing consumer demand for our products worldwide," said Leslie Blodgett, chief executive officer, in a statement released after the market closed on Wednesday.The San Francisco-based cosmetics company reported second-quarter earnings for the period ended July 1 of $20.2 million, or 22 cents a diluted share, up 92.4 percent from $10.5 million, or 15 cents, in the same year-ago period. Sales came in at $124.1 million, up 29 percent from $96.2 million in the year-ago quarter.

Analysts expected Bare Escentuals to earn 22 cents a share on revenue of $123.1 million, according to Yahoo Finance.

The company reaffirmed its fiscal 2007 earnings per share guidance of between 89 cents and 94 cents. Wall Street expects Bare Escentuals to report full-year earnings of 96 cents a share. Shares of Bare Escentuals rose by 0.3 percent Wednesday afternoon to $28.30, but fell 1.7 percent to $27.81 in after-hours trading, when the company released its earnings. — Erica Owen

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