AVON, HACHETTE PAIR FOR 'ATHENA': BEAUTY, LIFESTYLE TITLE IS PART OF GLOBAL STRATEGY; AD BUDGET TO DOUBLE

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Athena, a new magazine and marketing tool from Avon Products and Hachette Filipacchi Magazines, will be launched in the U.S. in April, and a global expansion already is under consideration.

The title, whose tagline will be "Common sense, uncommon style," promises to provide women information on beauty and lifestyle, while strengthening Avon's image as a beauty authority.

"Athena is the next step in our global strategy," said Andrea Jung, Avon exec VP and president-global marketing and new business.

The redefining of the Avon image through advertising will continue as the company plans to at least double its ad spending from 1.4% of sales to more than 2.8% by the year 2000, at which time about $200 million annually will be reinvested in advertising and marketing through a $400 million cost-reduction program.

10% GOAL FOR BOOSTING SALES

Avon's goal is to boost long-term sales 8% to 10% compounded annually and is looking to marketing, new retail and direct marketing efforts as well as a strong global image to help achieve those targets.

Among its global image enhancement efforts is the New York-based Avon Women's Global Center, scheduled to open in 1998 offering all its global brands as well as health and fitness facilities and spa services.

This year, the company also returned to sponsorship of women's running with the creation of the Avon Running Global Women's Circuit.

"The vision of the company is not just about selling products, and we thought that message can best come to life in a magazine." Ms. Jung said.

Avon will be the exclusive beauty advertiser, but Hachette will be selling ads to non-competitive categories, such as automotive, travel, package goods and fashion.

Athena will be published every other month, with the issue out in April carrying a May/June cover date.

APPEALING SYSTEM

"With what is happening in the newsstand market today . . . having an automatic distribution system through Avon sales representatives was very appealing," said David Pecker, president-CEO of Hachette.

Initially, Athena will be distributed through 440,000 Avon sales representatives, and on newsstands.

The rate base will be 500,000, said Mr. Pecker, with an initial print run of 600,000. Out of that, 50,000 to 100,000 will go for newsstand. The cover price will be $3.50, with special pricing for copies sold to sales representatives and their customers.

Avon and Hachette are looking at ways to bring Athena to other markets using Avon's network of nearly 2 million sales representatives outside the U.S. The plan is to establish the magazine in the U.S. in 1998, and then move it into international markets in 1999.

Ms. Jung noted that Hachette's international publishing operation made it a natural fit with Avon's strategy.

Mr. Pecker said the custom publishing group will handle advertising sales for the first two or three issues before he appoints a publisher.

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