REJUVENATING REVLON: IMAGE-WEARY GIANT TAPS NEW AD AGENCIES

Byline: Laura Klepacki

NEW YORK — Revlon took the first decisive step Thursday in rejuvenating its brand image, which had grown stale from lack of attention, by naming Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners as its new advertising agency, replacing Tarlow Advertising, its in-house agency of 15 years.
Partnering with Kirshenbaum was the final piece of its plan to help get Revlon back on course as it continues to chip away internally at its long-standing financial problems. Sources say Revlon is expected to boost its advertising budget $50 million this year, on top of the $125 million it reportedly spent last year to get the word out.
Revlon has also tapped Deutsch to handle ad campaigns for the Almay brand, as well as handle media buying for all Revlon product categories.
Kirshenbaum had been given a trial run with a Revlon property and it had responded by delivering the ad campaign for Skinlights Face Illuminators, a collection of skin highlighters that launched in January. The ads were a departure for Revlon, whose promotional campaigns had become synonymous with high-profile celebrities. Featuring a relatively unknown model, the Skinlights spots took a softer tone and focused more on product performance than the aura of a spokesperson.
Although Revlon is expected to hire a top name model to replace Cindy Crawford, whose contract is not being renewed, Cheryl Vitali, executive vice president of Revlon Global said Revlon is still making decisions on how and when to use models in the future. “Now hand in hand with our new agency, we will finalize new plan on how celebrities will be utilized,” she said.
Tarlow Advertising was disbanded late last year after 15 years of serving as Revlon’s sole creative force.
The new image drive is aimed at reconnecting the Revlon brand with American women who feel emotionally abandoned by its stale message.
In market surveys, executives learned that while consumers had a firm idea of what Revlon stood for and admired the ideal, there was little left about its bold glamour that still resonated with them personally. The most crushing comment, said Vitali, “was the woman who said, ‘I know exactly who the Revlon woman is, I just don’t know anyone like her anymore.”‘
For more than a year now, under the direction of president and chief executive, Jeffrey Nugent, Revlon has been rebuilding the company from the inside out. There have been sweeping management changes, the imposition of new trade terms for retail customers and for the first time in two years the brand is boasting a hefty new product lineup for spring.
But last year was one of the worst for Revlon. Weighted under a debt load that became even heavier, due to past inventory mismanagement, the company was able to offer up little in product news or image enhancement. Retail sales fell 6.2 percent, to $617 million, as it watched the total mass cosmetics market rise 7 percent.
“Revlon and Almay are incredibly strong brands, and have tremendous equity with consumers,” said Nugent. “By partnering with two of the most cutting-edge advertising firms in the business, we can capitalize on those equities and make them even stronger.”
“What we want to accomplish this year is to reveal a modernized version of Revlon. We are looking to break out of formulaic advertising,” said Vitali. Not wishing to give details of its next big ad campaign, which will likely be for Absolutely Fabulous LipCream in April, Vitali simply said “there will be surprises down the road. The key to this is creating a very broad campaign and a new voice within every product category that will fit under the umbrella.”
Revlon had spoken to seven agencies and received proposals from three before settling on Kirshenbaum.
“We are absolutely delighted and we are looking forward to a great and strong strategic partner,” said Vitali of the selection.
Revlon’s goal, said Vitali, is to break out of the traditional print and TV mix and look for a multimedia approach to marketing and promotions. “We absolutely believe in the power of advertising.”
Vanessa Solomon, executive vice president over the Almay brand, said the signing of the new agencies for Revlon and Almay was a pivotal time for the company.
“This is possibly the most exciting time in this corporation and this announcement has energized all of us,” said Solomon.

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