Agencies start knocking on Avon's door

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NEW YORK--Avon Products here has already heard creative pitches from at least one major ad agency, according to executives close to the cosmetics marketer, which expects to spend approximately $100 million on advertising this year.

Since it parted ways with D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles last year, Avon has handled the creative portion of its advertising account through an in-house group. MediaVest is the media buying and planning agency on the account. A spokesman for Avon says there is no formal review. "We continue to look for outside resources on a project-to-project basis," says the spokesman.

"I don't really want to comment," says Bob Gibralter, VP-global advertising. "We're putting our heads down and doing the work. We're managing our brand equity; we're managing our creative. We're working in-house, out of house."

But industry observers believe the direct marketer needs to go outside again for creative inspiration, and speculate such a move is not far off.

"Companies that bring advertising in-house end up talking to themselves," says Peter Flatow, president of CoKnowledge, a marketing consulting company. "They eventually have to go outside, because you just can't get the skill sets that are required to be smart in every area."

Avon CEO Andrea Jung told investors at a recent conference in New York that the company will focus its attention and resources on advertising this year. She announced a doubling of their global ad spending to $100 million.

The company's goal, according to Ms. Jung, will be to build on its brand image and to update its door-to-door sales strategy to make it more contemporary for modern women. The company also is expected to promote its latest initiative, the sale of Avon products in mall kiosks and retail stores.

Copyright June 2000, Crain Communications Inc.

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