NEW YORK — Garnier Nutrisse is learning how to speak Spanish, or rather, how to speak to the important Hispanic market.

In an effort to embrace its sizable Hispanic customer base, the hair color brand has named Colombian actress Danna Garcia its newest spokeswoman. She is only the second star to represent the brand, joining Sarah Jessica Parker.

Garnier executives have great expectations from its deal with Garcia: The campaign is expected to increase Garnier Nutrisse sales by about 25 percent, according to Stephanie Rinaldi, vice president of multi-ethnic marketing and promotions for Garnier. Rinaldi also expects to achieve greater brand awareness within the Hispanic market, which is now at 60 percent. The company’s long-term goal is to become the hair color market leader. As of last September, Garnier Nutrisse ranked as the number-seven hair color brand, according to Information Resources Inc., with $37.1 million in sales in food, drug and mass stores, excluding Wal-Mart.

The 30-second TV ads featuring Garcia will bow March 27 on several Spanish-language channels including Univision, Telemundo, and Galavision, with print ads appearing in the May issues of People en Español, Catalina Selecciones and Siempre Mujer, among others.

Garcia, who has been acting since age four, has achieved international stardom through her roles in more than 25 TV soap operas. The 28-year-old actress currently stars in Telemundo’s “Corazón Partido,” and “Pasión de Gavilanes,” a successful soap in Spain. Garcia said she was “happy” and “flattered” when Garnier approached her for the project. “For me it’s a great chance to work with a big company and have a lot of exposure. I’ve been working for a long time and this is the first time a company like Garnier has approached me,” she said.

Garcia’s contract term is for one year with an option to renew. Company executives declined to comment on its value, but industry sources estimate it could be worth as much as $1 million a year.

Rinaldi said believability and trustworthiness were key to Garcia’s overall appeal. “She’s very well-known and has wonderful recognition,” Rinaldi said. “She’s also very believable. Consumers told us that she seems as if you can take advice from her and trust her. That’s important in a spokesmodel.”

This story first appeared in the March 24, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The company performed an extensive model search that included market research and input from its consumers. In the end, the signs pointed to Garcia. “We spoke to our Hispanic consumers and they actually told us about her,” said Rinaldi.

Rinaldi cites the growth of the Hispanic population as a key factor in the company’s decision to diversify its image. “The Hispanic population is the fastest-growing ethnic group, they’re at almost 14 percent,” said Rinaldi. She explained that Garnier Nutrisse is popular among Hispanic women and has a 10 percent share of the Hispanic hair color market, compared with its 7 percent share of the general hair color market. “Hispanic women love beauty products,” she added. “It makes sense to speak to them with a solid representative from their community.”

Garcia also recognizes the importance of Hispanic representation in the beauty industry, though she does not think of herself as a role model. Garcia explained that at first she wondered why she was chosen among so many other talented women. She believes the answer lies in her down-to-earth image. “I have a good connection with the public,” she said. “I’m just a normal person like they are.”

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