LOS ANGELES — Bebe Stores Inc. has tapped actress Eva Longoria to be the face of its Bebe Sport active apparel brand.
Mischa Barton, who has been the face of the company’s bebe contemporary label since early last year, will continue her role as spokeswoman through this spring.
The company declined to disclose the terms of its two-year contract with Longoria, but the deal marks its first-ever advertising campaign for Bebe Sport, which launched in 2003 and has grown to 48 branded stores in less than four years. Photographer Greg Kadel has been signed on to shoot the campaign. Ads will launch in mid-March in magazines, on billboards and through direct mail.
In the last two years, Longoria has been a spokeswoman for apparel companies Hanes and New York & Co., and in 2005 inked a sponsorship deal with L’Oréal for more than $2 million.
Best known for her role as Gabrielle Solis on TV’s “Desperate Housewives,” Longoria has had a long relationship with the company, having worn Bebe and Bebe Sport both on- and off-camera.
“When I was poor, my dream was to walk into Bebe and buy everything,” the diminutive actress told WWD. “It was always my favorite.” A lifelong athlete, Longoria took a shine to Bebe Sport from its inception. “In college, I was an aerobics instructor and a cheerleader — I lived in active lifestyle [apparel],” she said. “It was always a challenge to find something really cool and functional, so when I found Bebe Sport, I became a big fan. I thought, finally — stylish, sexy workoutwear that’s functional. Now there’s such a blur between activewear and workoutwear. What you wear to the gym, you can wear to Starbucks. I think Bebe Sport does a good job in representing both lifestyles.”
Longoria is scheduled to make her first official Bebe Sport appearance at a launch party in Los Angeles in March.
Manny Mashouf, founder and chairman of Bebe, said, “The campaign is integral to our growth strategy for Bebe Sport,” adding: “We love Eva because she is an authentic embodiment of the spirit of Bebe Sport…sexy, smart, independent and fit.”
The Brisbane, Calif.-based company currently operates 258 stores in the U.S., Puerto Rico and Canada for its brands Bebe Sport, bebe and Neda by bebe. It is expected to add approximately 50 stores to its portfolio this year, including 21 Bebe Sport units.