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."

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