By  on February 11, 2010

Beauty device specialist Zeno Corp. has signed television personality Whitney Port for a $15 million advertising campaign to promote Hot Spot, its new thermal over-the-counter blemish-clearing device.

Andrea DiNunzio, Zeno’s chief marketing officer, wouldn’t discuss the terms of the company’s contract with Port, but said commercials with the star of MTV’s “The City” will begin airing March 8 on MTV, VH1 and TeenNick. Print advertising featuring Port, the designer behind clothing line Whitney Eve whose role on MTV’s “The Hills” catapulted her to reality television fame around four years ago, is expected to follow in May editions of magazines such as Seventeen and Allure.

“She really has such a great image with people in our target,” said DiNunzio, speaking of 13- to 29-year-old skin care consumers. “Whitney has an image that is aspirational. She is considered to be wholesome, very smart and very mature. She just had all the qualities we were looking for in a spokesperson.”

The commercials, directed by Brian DeCubellis, were shot in New York last Saturday, Sunday and Monday. DiNunzio said they are based on five scripts, most sticking to “classic skin care” advertising fare with the exception of one centering on a day in the life of Port. She added the initial ad buy will be primarily for 30-second spots, but Zeno will later shift to a mix of 15- and 30-second spots.

Zeno recently underwent a yearlong rebranding effort that resulted in a major push by the Houston-based company into mass retailers and drugstores with Hot Spot. The $39.99 FDA-approved, battery-operated handheld device, which started rolling out to Wal-Mart, CVS, Target, Duane Reade and Ulta last month, is designed to destroy acne bacteria with heat treatments of two-and-a-half minutes.

Zeno was founded in 2005 and first hit the market with a $225 blemish zapper aimed predominantly at dermatologists. The brand then launched a $149 version with $25 replacement tips that entered Walgreens in 2006. The sleeker, cheaper blue and pink Hot Spot doesn’t have replacement tips and is supposed to be disposed of after 80 uses, or three months for typical customers.

“Our real focus is the accessible price point,” said DiNunzio. “Every other product that I am aware of in the category of devices is significantly more expensive….That is a great point of difference for us, especially in this economy.”

Zeno closed a $20 million round of private equity funding — led by Catterton Partners, Santé Ventures and Austin Ventures — last November to help pay for Hot Spot’s advertising. In July 2008, the same investors were involved in a $28 million funding round.

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