By  on January 28, 2005

NEW YORK — Chanel hopes to leverage the success of this past Christmas well into 2005. But unlike December, which owes a debt of gratitude to the fragrance business, spring’s major focus is skin care.

“We’re coming off of a great year,” said Jean Hoehn Zimmerman, executive vice president of sales and marketing for Chanel’s U.S. beauty business. “Fragrance was up 18 percent last year, color was up 8.5 percent and treatment was up 20 percent. In December, our Chanel No. 5 business alone was up 30 percent.”

One of the key drivers behind fragrance growth — and, indeed, the Chanel beauty business as a whole in the second half of 2004 — was a luminous TV and print advertising campaign featuring Nicole Kidman, which broke last October in the U.S. While retailers note that Chanel No. 5 is always a sales winner over the holidays, many credited the Kidman campaign for helping to spike the business even higher this past December. Hoehn Zimmerman concurs. “The campaign brought many more people to the counter,” she said. “And we’re keeping them there with great new products for 2005.”

The chief advertising and promotional push for the brand during the first half of this year will focus on Hydramax Plus, a new moisturizer that the brand is launching this month, noted Annette Falso, vice president of new product marketing and training for Chanel’s U.S. beauty business.

Hydramax Plus includes extract of butterfly lavender, which is said to boost hydration by stimulating “water-trapping” proteins, and encapsulated extract of samphire, a seaside plant that grows in sand and rocks, and which is said to trap moisture in skin. Serum and cream versions are being launched in Chanel’s full beauty distribution in the U.S., currently about 850 department and specialty store doors.

Advertising is breaking in Vogue now, and will appear in Elle, Allure and Marie Claire, among others, beginning in February. Both single-page and spreads are being placed. None of the executives would comment on advertising and promotional spending, although sources estimated that Chanel would spend upward of $1.5 million to promote Hydramax Plus this year.

In April, Chanel will introduce Hydramax Plus Tinted Moisturizer Boost, the brand’s first foray into the category in close to 15 years. It will be supported with a direct-mail initiative with Nordstrom, which will invite consumers into the retailer’s doors for a sample of the Hydramax + serum.As well, Rectifiance Intense Sérum Retexturizing Line Corrector, a product intended to provide short-term cosmetic improvement with soft-focus pigments and long-term wrinkle correction with a proprietary blend of cyathea, Neroli and microproteins, will get a major ad push later this spring, noted Elizabeth Mankin, vice president of marketing for Chanel’s U.S. beauty business. Although she wouldn’t comment on spending, sources estimated that Chanel will invest upwards of $2 million on advertising and promotion for the product this year. All magazine advertising will comprise  spreads. The first runs in Vogue in May, followed in June by a raft of other books, including Allure, Harper’s Bazaar, Architectural Digest and Marie Claire.

Altogether, said Hoehn Zimmerman, one-third of Chanel’s advertising and promotional budget will be spent on skin- care advertising this year. Two additional skin-care launches — planned for the second half of 2005 — will get major ad play this fall, she said. She declined to give further details on these products.

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