By  on December 1, 2006

Revlon thinks a change will do it good.

The beauty firm, which stumbled through the fall with a management upheaval followed by layoffs, has recruited Sheryl Crow as the face of Revlon Colorist, a new hair color product due to launch in January.

Like Revlon, the nine-time Grammy winner has taken her share of knocks this year. In February, Crow split from fiancé Lance Armstrong and several weeks later underwent surgery for breast cancer. Since then Crow, 44, has rebounded with force, embarking on a media blitz and touring with singer John Mayer to promote her latest album, "Wildflower." She is now on the lookout for new business ventures. In October, Crow hired Brand Sense Partners to help her choose licensees for a lifestyle brand that likely will include apparel and accessories, said Theresa Brown, director of business development at Brand Sense Partners, a firm with a client list that includes Elizabeth Arden and Britney Spears.

Crow's comeback prowess is inspirational, particularly to Revlon, which industry watchers said is in urgent need of a hit.

This fall, Revlon pulled the plug on one of its most ambitious initiatives for the year, a color cosmetics line for mature women called Vital Radiance, after it failed to generate sales. The other, a department store fragrance called Flair, was abandoned a month before it was slated to launch.

Hair color may offer Revlon an open field next year. Retail buyers are expecting a relatively quiet year in the category, following the deluge of introductions this year, including Natural Match by L'Oréal Paris, Garnier Nutrisse Color Breaks and Procter & Gamble's Natural Instincts Shine Happy.

"Colorist is the only news I have for next year," said a hair care buyer for a top drugstore chain. The buyer noted that P&G shelved plans for a 10-minute hair color product that was originally planned for spring. It's the application process, not the time required, that rattles women, said the buyer.

Revlon would not comment on upcoming marketing plans or sales expectations for Colorist. However, industry sources estimate Revlon will spend roughly $50 million to introduce Colorist and anticipate first-year sales will come in at about $49 million.Colorist marks Crow's second gig with Revlon. In spring 2004, the singer gave an acoustic performance at a party Revlon hosted for its retail partners in Palm Beach, Fla. In her new spokeswoman role, Crow will appear in a multimedia campaign slated to break next month. Revlon's collaboration with Crow also will include several breast cancer initiatives, according to the company.

"We are thrilled to have Sheryl represent Revlon Colorist," said Debra Dowd, vice president of marketing for Revlon hair care, in a statement due to be released today. "Sheryl is an empowering woman who brings a sense of real glamour that is relatable."

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