Avon Products Inc. is sporting a new kind of partnership, an alliance with the Ironman triathlon franchise. Avon will launch a men’s fragrance collection with American Ironman winner Matt Miller acting as the face. The company also has a new online initiative together with the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation to help find a cure for breast cancer.

This story first appeared in the October 3, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“Our global fragrance strategy is focused on ensuring we have exciting brands from all different price points so we look for alliances that offer women and men opportunities to have a piece of luxury or something that’s exciting and inspirational to them,” said Tracy Haffner, Avon’s vice president of global fragrance. “The diversity complemented by the sports equity is inspirational.”

Launching in June, the Ironman Collection will include an eau de toilette, an aftershave conditioner and an antiperspirant deodorant. In addition to the U.S. launch, the fragrance will roll out to Latin America, the U.K., Brazil and Australia over the next few months. The fragrance will feature the same tag line, “Anything Is Possible,” that the Ironman franchise uses for its worldwide events.

With a 30-year history in the licensing business, Ironman saw this alliance as an opportunity to raise its brand awareness and tap into a new demographic. According to Bill Potts, vice president of marketing and business development for Ironman, the franchise includes everything from watches to fitness equipment, and the event now includes 52 events worldwide spanning six continents.

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“Our brand stands for durability, performance and excellence,” said Potts. “This allows us to bring an emotional feeling to a wider range of consumers.”

Miller was particularly drawn to the new partnership since he felt Avon’s mission was in line with his foundation, The C Different Foundation, dedicated to empowering and helping visually impaired athletes participate in events worldwide.

“I am thrilled to be the face of the fragrance, not only because the Ironman is such an integral part of my life, but also because I know Avon shares the same passion as my foundation,” said Miller.

Although the company will not be doing print or television advertising, Avon plans to feature a spread with a scented page in the Avon brochure. The company also plans for an aggressive sampling program, handing out more than 19.2 million samples in the brochure, as well as at different Ironman competitions across the U.S., including the Ford Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, on Oct. 11.

On the foundation front, Avon and the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation has partnered with breast cancer researchers to help find a cure for breast cancer with a new initiative, Love/Avon Army of Women. As part of the collaboration, Avon is hoping to sign up one million women of all ages and ethnicities and participate in research studies. Since the kick off on Wednesday, the program has signed up more than 50,000 women.

“We’re refocusing breast cancer research to help us find the cause of the disease,” said Love.

As part of the new program, women can sign up online on armyofwomen.org, where they can complete a questionnaire and provide blood or saliva samples.

Researchers will have to present their initial studies and findings online through Webinars, so volunteers can see where exactly what they did to make a difference.

Avon has plans to raise $10 million with its Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, which kicks off in New York this Saturday. The foundation is also partnering with the State Department to host a two-day global breast cancer awareness event on Oct. 14 in Washington to combat the growing global burden of breast cancer.

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