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Clinique Taps Lynne Greene as President

With a new president and two additions to one of its best-selling skin care lines, Clinique is writing the next chapter in its 37-year history.

NEW YORK — With a new president and two additions to one of its best-selling skin care lines, Clinique is about to enter the next chapter in its 37-year history.

The Estée Lauder Cos., Clinique’s parent, is expected to announce today that beauty veteran Lynne Greene will take the helm of the iconic department store brand early next year. As well, Clinique is set for a national rollout of two products — a facial mask and a serum — which it expects to significantly boost the brand’s already popular Turnaround skin care franchise.

Greene, most recently president of specialty brands for the Estée Lauder Cos., will assume her new role on Jan. 1, and will report to Lauder group president Philip Shearer.

“Lynne is the ultimate pro — she builds strong businesses, thinks strategically and knows the beauty industry like the back of her hand,” said Shearer. “She’s done wonderful things for every brand which she’s worked on. Clinique is a very strong and important brand, and with this move, Lynne’s considerable talents will be applied to one of the industry’s largest and most respected brands.”

Greene’s extensive résumé includes 18 years at the Estée Lauder Cos., including a stint at the Lauder-owned Origins, as that brand’s global president. In 2003, she was named to her current role as president of Lauder’s specialty store group, which has entailed overseeing Prescriptives, Jo Malone and La Mer.

“I’m very excited to be joining Clinique,” said Greene. “It is a brand which offers a combination of simplicity and approachability, with a unique culture. It’s an exciting combination and one I’m looking forward to being a part of.”

Greene’s first order of business will be to “listen and look,” she said this week. “From there, we’ll make other announcements.”

Greene will be stepping into her Clinique role as the brand grapples with a changing department store landscape. The most dramatic shift will be the closure of some department store doors previously owned by the May Co. — which Federated Department Stores acquired this year. About 75 stores already have been marked for closure — and others are expected to follow, industry sources have said. Moreover, Clinique, which pioneered the dermatological approach to skin care in 1968, is now faced with a raft of competition from upstart doctor brands. However, it remains a giant as the number-one brand in U.S. department stores and one of the dominant forces in the world. Lauder does not break out volume figures, but industry sources estimate Clinique’s worldwide sales at $2 billion.

This story first appeared in the December 2, 2005 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Both Greene and Shearer are confident that the two Turnaround additions — which incorporate skin care technology not available when the Turnaround franchise was launched in 1992 — will be a powerful business driver in those department store doors that remain.

While none of the executives would comment on estimated sales or advertising spending, industry sources estimated that the two new Turnaround products would do at least $25 million at retail in their first year on counter and that the Turnaround ad budget would be about $2 million. The national print campaign breaks in January fashion, beauty and lifestyle magazines, noted Beth Spruance, vice president of treatment marketing for Clinique.

In addition, Clinique itself has recently undergone subtle tweaks, part of keeping any venerable brand fresh. The Irving Penn, product-as-hero ad shots that the brand has used since its founding in 1968 now include models, and the new Turnaround products introduce subtle changes to the traditional Clinique packaging silhouettes. Turnaround Concentrate Visible Skin Renewer is in a sleek, pale blue bottle topped and lettered in silver and white tones, while Turnaround 15-Minute Facial is in a slightly larger and less deep tub, also in pale blue with silver and white accents.

While the brand is freshening some of its aspects, Clinique isn’t ignoring its heritage. In fact, it is looking to one of Clinique’s original ad campaigns for a tag line that will be used next year. It asks the question, “Can Great Skin Be Created?” Shearer hinted that TV advertising in selected markets might bow in the spring, although no firm plans have yet been made.

“We may be retelling the Clinique story, but we are staying true to the brand’s DNA,” Shearer said. “This is a brand which has so much substance and a unique story. The brand is very strong, and we’re looking forward to even more growth — especially in Europe and Asia.

“Turnaround is a very hot franchise for Clinique, and it plays on a core strength of the brand’s skin care heritage — which is exfoliation,” Shearer continued. “Exfoliation is a backbone of the three-step [skin care] program on which the brand was built. It is not a trend for us — it is part of our brand DNA. These launches are coming at a time where we have done a lot of animation around the three-step program, and they will be crucially important.”

Clinique’s Clarifying Lotion, part of the brand’s Three-Step skin care line, was launched in 1968 as the brand bowed in department stores. It contains salicyclic acid in liquid form, a groundbreaking ingredient for skin care at the time, and is widely credited with introducing the exfoliation concept to department store consumers. The brand added salicyclic acid in a liposome system when it launched the original Turnaround cream in 1992, and then added new glucosamine technology to Total Turnaround, which bowed in 2001.

The two newest products to join the Turnaround lineup use a patent-pending delivery technology to effect exfoliation deep in the skin’s surface, explained Debbie D’Aquino, vice president of product development marketing for Clinique. “We discovered that chestnut extract works extremely well in synergy with glucosamine and salicyclic acid, making all of the other ingredients even more efficacious — and the net result is that skin is exfoliated in sync with the body’s natural rhythms,” said D’Aquino. The products are designed to be used before the brand’s Three-Step skin care regimen.

Turnaround Concentrate Visible Skin Renewer, designed to be used twice daily, carries a price tag of $36.50, while Turnaround 15-Minute Facial, for once-a-week use, is $34.50. Both officially launch in January, although Saks Fifth Avenue’s Manhattan flagship has already begun quietly selling the items.