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Busy Season: Coty Inks Deals With Halle Berry and Playboy

Coty Inc. has won the hand of two big names: Halle Berry and Playboy Enterprises Inc.

Coty Inc. has won the hand of two big names: Halle Berry and Playboy Enterprises Inc.

This story first appeared in the February 29, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The beauty giant has signed the Academy Award-winning actress to a scent development deal, which will involve her in the development of a fragrance portfolio as well as appearing in its advertising.

“Halle is an iconic actress and symbolizes beauty to many generations,” Steve Mormoris, senior vice president of global marketing for Coty Beauty, Coty Inc.’s mass division, told WWD at the Personal Care Products Council’s annual meeting in Boca Raton, Fla. “She adds another dimension to the celebrity fragrance market. Halle has always been a little more mysterious, not quite as open with her personal life as some other stars. Her fragrances will allow her to present another facet of her personality to her fans.”

The first Berry fragrance products are expected to launch globally in spring 2009, Mormoris said. They will launch in what Coty terms “midtier” department stores, such as J.C. Penney, and then will move into the mass market as well. “We’re committed to developing a project that will bring luxury to the mass market,” said Mormoris. “We want to bring vitality to that market, with projects that consumers find compelling.”

Generally, such celebrity deals include $3 million to $5 million up front, with a royalty of about 5 percent, according to industry sources. Mormoris declined to discuss the terms of Berry’s deal.

Aside from her good looks of course, Berry is no stranger to beauty. The actress has served as a Revlon spokesmodel since 1996, and her deal with Coty struck Revlon’s management by surprise Thursday morning. “I am not aware of it,” said Revlon’s president and chief executive officer, David Kennedy, referring to the Coty deal. “She is under contract with Revlon and she’s under contract with us for some time.”

He declined to comment on whether Berry’s contract with Revlon includes fragrance, but said, “We don’t expect she would breach her contract.”

Coty’s extensive celebrity portfolio also includes the scent brands of Jennifer Lopez, David and Victoria Beckham, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kimora Lee Simmons, Gwen Stefani, Celine Dion, Kate Moss and Tim McGraw.

While he didn’t disclose many details of the Berry development, Mormoris said that the brand is exploring “breakthrough olfactory” notes, including natural and organic ingredients. “Halle symbolizes primal, sensual beauty, so it only makes sense to reflect that in her brand positioning,” Mormoris said.

Berry, who is due to give birth to her first child shortly, was unavailable for comment at press time.

In addition to wrangling Berry, Coty also recruited a new playmate. The firm has inked a deal with Playboy Enterprises Inc. to develop fragrances, starting with a men’s scent due out this fall.

Financial details of the licensing agreement were not disclosed, but Bernd Beetz, Coty Inc.’s ceo, said it will run on a long-term basis.

“It is a very aspirational lifestyle [brand],” Beetz told WWD during a telephone interview Thursday. “It’s very playful and very metropolitan.”

Beetz added Playboy’s sexy and fun positioning means the brand has broad appeal. He also characterized its founder, Hugh Hefner, “an iconic character” and an idol for many men.

The Playboy brand will be part of the Coty Beauty division and will be distributed internationally, starting with Europe, North America and Asia, through midtier department stores, perfumeries and drugstores, as well as food retailers in certain markets.

The Playboy fragrance business, which could grow to include other scents in the future, could generate $200 million at retail within five years, according to Mormoris. “I believe the Playboy brand has great potential all over the world,” he said, adding Coty was keen to add an iconic American brand with global potential to its portfolio. “The image territory of this brand is so rich and vast, it’s a great context in which to create a compelling story for fragrance and how it fits [the Playboy] lifestyle.”

Playboy fits into Coty’s lifestyle-oriented pillar, according to Beetz. As reported, the company also organizes its brands into designer- and celebrity-oriented categories. The deal doesn’t mark Playboy’s first foray into beauty. In 2005, the Playboy Beauty color cosmetics line was introduced under license by High Maintenance, and MAC Cosmetics developed a limited edition makeup set for Playboy in 2003.

“Just as François Coty revolutionized the fragrance industry over 100 years ago, my father started a revolution over a half century ago,” stated Christie Hefner, chairman and ceo of Playboy Enterprises Inc. “With Coty’s global success and impressive fragrance industry expertise, they were clearly the right partner for our fragrance debut.”