By  on March 25, 2005

NEW YORK — Kinerase has a new best “Friend.”

The upscale derm skin care line told WWD Thursday that it has inked a spokesperson deal with actress Courteney Cox, best known for her role as the slightly anal-retentive Monica on the long-running NBC series “Friends.”

“Courteney is a perfect match for Kinerase,” said Wes Wheeler, president, North America and global commercial development for Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, Kinerase’s parent company. This deal marks the first time that the global pharmaceutical giant has used a celebrity in its advertising. “She’s instantly recognizable, has great skin and is an A-list celebrity with tremendous appeal to a wide variety of consumers. We’re thrilled to be working with her.”

Kinerase’s target market is upscale women from 30 to 55 years old, noted Wheeler, making Cox, a new mother, “infinitely appealing.”

Wheeler refused to discuss any terms of the contract, including its length or what Cox is being paid. However, industry sources familiar with such deals estimated that Cox’s deal is likely a two- or three-year deal with option renewals, and that she could be commanding a $3 million payday for the gig.

A national advertising campaign starring Cox has been shot and will be placed in fashion, beauty and lifestyle magazines later this spring. While Wheeler kept mum on details, sources said that hair was done by Chris McMillan — the hairdresser who made fellow “Friend” Jennifer Aniston’s “Rachel” cut famous — and makeup by Gucci Westman. Cox also will make selected personal appearances on behalf of the brand, and collateral materials featuring her image will be produced for distribution in the brand’s doors.

Wheeler noted that Cox’s A-list status will spotlight the brand as it expands its distribution. At present, the Kinerase line is sold chiefly in dermatologists’ offices — about 2,500 in the U.S. Wheeler said that the brand will expand into upscale retail distribution later this spring, into about 96 specialty store doors domestically, including Sephora. As well, doors are being added in Europe, and Wheeler is mapping out growth plans for South America and Asia.

His ultimate goal, Wheeler said, is to have a distribution that includes high-end department and specialty store chains and medi-spas in addition to the derms who currently stock it. Still, “it won’t be everywhere,” he said of the skin care line, whose products retail between $30 and $110. “It is intended to be a high-end, selectively distributed product line.” Its key ingredient, Wheeler explained, is kinetin — “a nature-identical plant growth factor that allows the skin to retain more moisture, making the skin feel firmer and healthier, improving the skin’s overall appearance.”

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