AVON BOOSTS AD SPENDING, TRIMS TITLES FROM PRINT BUY: NET STRATEGIES, BRAND-BUILDING TOP OF MIND AT COSMETICS SELLER

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Avon Products will hike its ad spending by about 50% this year, but fewer magazines will share those extra dollars.

The cosmetics marketer will spend about $100 million worldwide, up from $66 million in 1997. But Avon plans to shrink its print schedule, concentrating on fewer titles. It's all part of an ad overhaul started last year and leading to a new global brand campaign during the second half of 1999.

USING THE INTERNET

Publishers said Avon is particularly interested in magazines' proposals for using the Internet in promotions and brand building. But one publisher noted that most monthlies are now closing their June issues, so Avon may have to scramble to complete the process if it wants to get its advertising into the all-important September books.

Avon is reviewing its global print schedule, which has included at times as many as 60 books in the U.S. alone, said Robert Gibralter, VP-global advertising. But while the number of titles shrinks the print spending will likely grow in proportion to the budget increase, he said.

Avon executives are meeting with magazine publishers and soliciting proposals to create "long-term, value-added relationships" with a smaller group, he said.

Janice Spector, who joined Avon recently as senior director of global advertising, is reviewing mature markets such as the U.S., U.K. and Canada, while Mr. Gibralter concentrates on emerging markets.

"Being out and in, out and in [of books] really frustrates the publishers," Mr. Gibralter said, adding he would rather have a consistent presence in fewer books.

Some publishing companies, such as Conde Nast Publications, will lure regular advertisers with added-value packages and rates based on the number of pages and frequency with which advertisers buy into their books.

MAKING DOLLARS COUNT

Print spending won't go down, but Avon needs to make its dollars count, since it spends less than other cosmetics companies its size, Mr. Gibralter noted.

According to Competitive Media Reporting, Avon spent $22.5 million in U.S. media last year, $13.6 million of that in magazines. By comparison, the top three magazine spenders in the cosmetics category in 1998 were L'Oreal (including Maybelline), with $89.2 million; Procter & Gamble Co., with $77.8 million; and Estee Lauder, with $66 million.

Avon plans to hike ad spending from 1.3% of its $5.1 billion in sales in 1997 to 3% of total sales by 2000. Mr. Gibralter said this year it is spending slightly under 2% of sales, which is projected by some analysts to match last year's $5.2 billion.

TV HIKE SIGNIFICANT

Its use of TV also will "increase significantly" as part of those plans, Mr. Gibralter said.

Avon is concentrating on global brand building and boosting sales beyond the U.S. market as part of its growth efforts. It projects global brands such as Anew and Women of Earth will make up 70% of its cosmetic, fragrance and toiletries sales by next year, up from 50% in 1997.

The spending plans are part of a global ad restructuring started last year, when Avon also concentrated its advertising relationships with units of McManus Group, New York. N.W. Ayer & Partners is now the lead agency for Avon, and sister media shop TeleVest handles buying (AA, Aug. 3).

Avon will step up spending this month with a launch campaign for its latest product line, Hydra Finish Lip Color. TV spots for the new moisturizing lipstick line broke April 12. Mr. Gibralter wouldn't quote numbers, but he said spending on the Hydra Finish launch is comparable to the 1998 launch of Women of Earth, which CMR puts at $3 million in U.S. media.

The campaign, created by Ayer, gives some indications of where Avon's global effort may be heading. The 15-second spot, which will air globally as the product rolls out overseas, features a voice-over touting the lipstick and closes with a shot of a woman reaching for her telephone and voice-over reminding viewers to call their Avon representative.

AVON LADIES

That strong call to action is part of Avon's plans to boost ties with its sales representatives, Mr. Gibralter said. Avon has expanded distribution in recent years through a toll-free line, Web site (www.avon.com) and mall kiosks, but the traditional "Avon ladies" still sell about 98% of its product globally.

Along with the Hydra Finish launch, Avon will add two extensions to the Anew skincare line this spring: Body Force skin firming lotion; and Clearly C, an anti-aging facial treatment with vitamin C.

A company spokesman added a major global fragrance launch to follow Women of

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