Avon Products Inc. is adding to its already jam-packed celebrity roster by tapping singer Keri Hilson and Paul Innis as its celebrity makeup artist for North America.
This story first appeared in the April 14, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Hilson and Innis’ Avon roles were revealed in Las Vegas on Monday during the company’s annual leadership conference attended by 2,000-plus district managers and sales representatives. Terms of their contracts with the New York-based direct-sales giant — with a flotilla of celebrity spokespeople that includes Patrick Dempsey, Reese Witherspoon, Zoe Saldana, Courteney Cox and Fergie — were not disclosed.
Although perhaps unfamiliar to Avon veterans, Hilson, a 27-year-old two-time Grammy nominee whose breakthrough album “In a Perfect World…” went gold last year, appeals to young, social media-savvy consumers and potential representative recruits. She replaces Jennifer Hudson, also an emerging music star when she was signed by Avon in 2007, in fronting Imari, which has been around for more than 20 years.
“We had a great partnership with Jennifer Hudson, and we found that so powerful that, in the same spirit, we wanted to take it a step further,” said Lily DeStefano, executive director of Avon North America beauty. “Keri just brings a youth and vitality to our brand. I think that she’s just the perfect transition.”
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With the addition of Hilson, “We are looking to bring in a younger, fresher target, also a more diverse audience as well,” said DeStefano.
Hilson’s deal with Avon is her first brand endorsement, and the Atlanta-area native, who performed acoustic renditions of her songs “Energy” and “Knock You Down” from her debut album for the Avon throngs Monday night, didn’t enter into it capriciously. “I’m really careful. I don’t want to be affiliated with too many brands,” she said. “It’s got to make sense, and it makes sense [with Avon.] I love fragrance. I love beauty. I love to teach women that they should feel confident and feel good about themselves for themselves.”
Aside from her work with Avon, Hilson is back in the studio with record producers Polow da Don and Timbaland to finish her second album, due out later this year.
Both of Avon’s newcomers, Hilson and Innis, teamed up recently on a two-day photo shoot at Manhattan’s Chelsea Piers on four images that will appear in an upcoming Avon catalogue.
“With Paul, it was a great balance,” said Hilson. “I liked what I saw in the mirror as well as what I saw in the photo. That’s very rare.”
The reaction of Innis, formerly Clinique’s global makeup artist who has been involved with more than 100 Avon catalogues, to Hilson’s future appearance in the Avon catalogue and her Imari association was enthusiastic. “She brings a new direction. She’s bright, she’s young, she’s energetic. She’s edgy, but she’s not too edgy….You take the products and put it on her, and she brings a whole new crowd of people,” he said.
Innis has been tasked with refining Avon’s Ideal Shade foundations, powders and concealers to ensure people of all skin colors find an Ideal Shade product that matches them. The revamped Ideal Shade range, expanded to 17 shades under Innis’ direction, is scheduled for release in late August.