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Poccia Recruited to Head Mark

Avon Products has named former Stila executive Claudia Poccia president of its young-spirited Mark brand, a post vacant since January.

NEW YORK — Avon Products has named former Stila executive Claudia Poccia president of its young-spirited Mark brand, a post that has remained vacant since Deborah Fine left the company in January to join Limited Brands as chief executive officer of Pink.

Avon’s chairman and chief executive officer Andrea Jung said the selection of Poccia, “speaks volumes about Avon’s commitment to Mark.” She added that Poccia is the right leader to build the next generation of Avon consumers.

Poccia previously served as senior vice president and general manager of Stila Cosmetics, owned by The Estee Lauder Cos. She will begin her new role Nov. 1 and report to Brian C. Connolly, executive vice president and president of Avon North America.

The pair worked together in the early Nineties when Poccia served as Avon’s field director of marketing. “She was a superstar even then,” said Connolly. “What she’s done at Stila has been aspirational,” referring to the impact Poccia’s success has had on the development of Mark. He added that Poccia has a keen sensibility for what young women want.

She will be charged with driving Mark’s growth in the U.S. and leading the two-year-old brand’s international expansion. In the second quarter, Mark expanded south to Mexico, its first international market. The brand has plans to enter Canada and Puerto Rico next year, and has earmarked Europe, Japan and Latin America for early 2007.

Mark also continues to evolve into a lifestyle brand, expanding into categories such as accessories and loungewear. “I feel so strongly about having a lifestyle brand that would help regenerate Avon,” said Jung. “And I think we’ve accomplished that with Mark.”

In 2004, Mark generated sales of $47 million, and is on pace to end the year with $70 million in sales, reported Jung.

“This brand has been on my radar,” said Poccia. She added that Mark’s focus on empowering young women through financial independence, and Avon’s corporate commitment to be the premiere company for women has added a new dimension to beauty. “That whole spirit really resonates with me,” said Poccia.

For her new assignment, Poccia will relocate from L.A. to New York. Her first order of business, she acknowledged, will be to get comfortably entrenched within the Mark team. She noted, “There is such a dynamic team at Mark that I think the wise thing to do is listen and learn” before delving into strategy. Since 1994, Poccia has held various marketing and sales positions at The Estee Lauder Companies, including posts at Estee Lauder USA and Canada. She joined Stila in 2000. She has also held positions at Giorgio Beverly Hills and L’Oreal.

This story first appeared in the June 24, 2005 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Jung is credited with drumming up the concept for Mark. She recruited former magazine publisher Deborah Fine in 2001 to lead the company’s efforts to court a younger demographic. Avon introduced Mark in August 2003. Today, the brand is sold by an army of 20,000 representatives, who rely on 12 yearly “magalogues” to peddle their wares.

The brand was created to target women 18 to 24 years old, but has expanded its focus somewhat to include thirtysomethings as well, noted Jennifer Sagawa, product marketing director for Mark/Avon Future. That demographic now overlaps with Stila’s core: women 17 to 34 years old.

Part of Avon’s growth plan includes promotional alliances. For instance, it has partnered with American Legacy Foundation, raising $1 million to support the organization’s antitobacco efforts. Also, in July Mark will kick of a promotion with Fresh Look contact lenses. Those who purchase Fresh Look at eye care outlets, such as Lens Crafters — some 10,000 stores are included — will receive a makeup bag filled with four Mark eye shadows, and a brochure that details how to apply the shades.

Poccia will leave Stila at the end of June. Stacy Panagakis will fill Poccia’s former post, and has been named vice president and general manager, Stila Cosmetics North America. She will report to Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne, group president, Stila cosmetics and The Estee Lauder Cos.

Panagakis most recently served as vice president sales for Stila Cosmetics North America. She has worked on several Lauder brands, including Origins and Clinique, serving as vice president global education and vice president of North America education. Panagakis joined Clinique in 1986 as a counter manager at Macy’s West in northern California.

“Stacy is the perfect candidate to lead the Stila North American business into the future. She possesses all the leadership skills needed to empower the team and take Stila to the next level,” said Bousquet-Chavanne in a statement. “Her sales and marketing experience will only enhance the brand’s success in the marketplace.”