Avon Products Inc., playing the role of global talent scout, wants the world to raise its voice in song.
On Wednesday, the direct seller launched a global singing and songwriting contest as part of Avon Voices, an initiative tied to the company’s 125th anniversary celebration.
Participants can register for the competition at avonvoices.com, where they will be greeted with a video message from Black Eyed Peas front woman and Avon spokeswoman Fergie. The pop icon will help judge the competition, along with other high-profile music stalwarts, including songwriter Diane Warren, who wrote Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,” among a number of other award-winning songs. The competition includes two parts: a global talent search for a female singer and a songwriting contest that incorporates the themes of “empowerment,” which is open to both men and women. The general public is invited to become a “talent scout,” and vote for their favorite contenders by registering at avonvoices.com.
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The link between Avon and music is a natural one, said Avon chairman and chief executive officer Andrea Jung.
“Avon has always been about women having their own voice through economic empowerment and self-fulfillment,” Jung told WWD Wednesday. “Life is about making dreams come true.” She added that Avon also has learned through its brushes with the music world — including its work with Fergie and its past association with “American Idol” winner Jordin Sparks for the Mark brand — the “emotive power of music is very global.”
From now through Feb. 13, women are invited to enter the singing talent search by choosing a song from avonvoices.com and uploading a video — provided they do not currently have a recording deal, said Joe Billone, vice president and project lead for Avon Voices. By March 8, Avon will narrow down the field to 200 contestants, who will travel to one of four cities around the globe — Paris, Hong Kong, Rio de Janeiro and Nashville — to receive professional voice coaching and makeovers. Voters will then help further whittle down the number of hopefuls, and the top 25 will head to Hollywood on July 25 to record new music. The two winners, one from the general public and one from Avon’s base of sales representatives, will be introduced at the Avon Foundation for Women’s annual awards gala, held each fall. As part of their prize, the pair may have an opportunity to record a professionally produced album. The songwriting contest begins May 20 and will run through July 1.
Luckily enough for the potential contestants, both Fergie and Warren revealed their criteria for choosing a singing sensation.
Fergie told WWD, “Focus on your strengths. If you’re a diva vocalist, pick a big ballad that shows that off. If you are a rock vocalist, pick a song that more suits your voice for that and really perform it.…Show off your best assets and be original. Be fearless.” She added, “I want to hear somebody sing something that jumps out of the speakers at me.”
Is it any wonder that her first fragrance for Avon is named Outspoken? Fergie also revealed she’s already working on her second and third fragrances, adding that she enjoys the scent-making process right down to selecting the bottle and the packaging. “It’s just like putting an outfit on.”
Warren, for her part, is looking for a voice and lyrics that stand out from the crowd. “What draws me in is uniqueness. Something said a different way. And a great singer to me isn’t about the technical aspect of singing. It’s the soul, it’s the passion.”
Warren has written countless hit songs, but her favorite at the moment is a new one sung by Cher in the recently released film “Burlesque,” called, “You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me.”
“I was asked to write a song for this scene in the film where they are taking away [Cher’s character’s] club and she gets on the stage and she sings this defiant song.…I also wanted to write a song that captured who Cher is. I wanted to write Cher’s career-defining song,” said Warren, who has written about 20 songs for the singer over the past 25 years. “It was fun to be able to tap into a persona. When she first heard it she said, ‘Why do you write songs that are so f-ing hard to sing?’ She ended up singing notes she didn’t know she was capable of going near.”
Warren also is writing some empowering songs for Avon, which will be available for digital download in select countries, with a percentage of the proceeds to go toward supporting the Avon Foundation for Women’s global campaign to end violence against women and girls.