By  on January 16, 2007

Bebe Stores Inc. has yet another — slightly older — new face.

The company has hired model-turned-actress Rebecca Romijn to succeed Mischa Barton as the marketing symbol of its bebe contemporary brand. Earlier, the retailer named actress Eva Longoria to be the face of its activewear division, Bebe Sport.

The signings of the thirtysomethings — Romijn is 34, Longoria, 31 — might suggest the company's intent to market to a slightly older customer (Barton is 20). But chief executive officer Greg Scott said bebe's target demographic, 25- to 35-year-old women, will remain constant.

"We never thought of Mischa as her character on ‘The O.C.,'" he said. "We portrayed her as more of a woman in our images. With Rebecca, we'll keep her in that same genre."

The process of signing Romijn and Longoria was lengthy. "It sometimes takes a year to choose [a spokeswoman]," Scott said. "You have to meet with them many times to make sure there's a connection between the person and the brand.…I think Rebecca's always represented someone who is a very natural, sexy, self-confident woman."

Scott said Barton's contract with bebe was always intended to be finite. "We always knew we would sign someone new in a year," he said. "Mischa did an amazing job for the company and gave us a lot of presence," he said.

Romijn, whose modeling career included two Sports Illustrated covers and a stint hosting MTV's "House of Style" series, is best known for her role as the shape-shifting Mystique in the "X-Men" movie franchise. Last month, ABC announced that Romijn would join the cast of its "Ugly Betty" series.

"I have always been impressed with the strong, sexy and confident image that reflects the bebe brand," Romijn said in a statement. "I am thrilled and proud to be working with them."

Scott declined to detail terms of the deal. Advertisements will launch mid-April in magazines, on billboards and through direct mail, a month after Longoria's campaign is to appear. Romijn will make her first official appearance for the brand in the front row of the collection bebe runway show during Los Angeles Fashion Week in March.

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