Deutsch wins its way into P&G venture

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Deutsch, New York, has edged into the beauty business, and onto Procter & Gamble Co.'s roster.

P&G last week awarded Deutsch the branding assignment for its recently created Reflect.com Web site. The new site--a joint venture of P&G and Institutional Venture Partners--sells an array of customized cosmetics online. P&G holds a 51% stake in the business.

Deutsch will handle the general- advertising creative and media planning for the beauty site. MediaVest, New York, will handle print buying, and Starcom USA, Chicago, has TV buying.

A multimedia campaign is slated to be launched in the spring; the budget wasn't disclosed.

READY FOR THE HOLIDAYS

Reflect.com is expected to be fully operational before the holiday season, and print and direct-mail ads are already in circulation. That effort, from Rapp Collins Worldwide, New York, features taglines such as "Create your own beauty" and "Trust no one but you with the way you look". Rapp Collins will continue to handle direct marketing, with online support from affiliate Critical Mass, based in Calgary, Alberta.

The addition of Deutsch is a departure from P&G's longstanding practice of handing new business to its roster shops. The move also goes against P&G's recent paring of that roster to leave only global agencies. While Deutsch is an established name in the U.S., it's only just beginning to expand internationally.

A P&G spokeswoman, however, said the assignment doesn't signal a new direction for the packaged-goods giant.

"It's important to recognize that Reflect.com is a stand-alone company operated under a totally different management," she said. "While P&G has a majority equity stake, they have their freedom to go to whatever agency best fits their needs, and Deutsch did that."

Within P&G, Reflect.com is also seen as an experiment in managing new ventures--one that Chairman-CEO Durk Jager recently told shareholders he expects to have a major influence on P&G's future culture.

"As [P&G] is evolving to do business in new ways, they have come to us for out-of-the-box thinking and as a partner for the future," said Deutsch Chief Strategy Officer/Managing Partner Cheryl Greene. "They're determined to move with the times. They know where the customer is heading--which is to more choice and more customization."

CUSTOMIZATION

Reflect.com--which hopes to stand out by selling custom-made cosmetics under its own product line instead of hawking established beauty brands--joins a potpourri of other sites that have ramped up their promotional efforts. Eve.com, Beauty.com, Sephora.com and Beautyscene.com are just a few of the countless sites that have launched fall branding campaigns. But Deutsch's Ms. Greene said Reflect.com has the potential to be the fairest of them all.

"They have a tremendous advantage over all the other sites that are just pushing brands," she said. "[Reflect.com] has a very unique offering, which is a degree of customization that has been unheard of in any category up to now. They are a beauty source, a beauty adviser and [they] make products exactly the way you want them to be."

Reflect.com is the latest dot-com client to join Deutsch's roster. Ashford.com, britannica.com, expedia.com and myfamily.com all climbed aboard in the last year.

CAREFUL PARTNER SELECTION

"We've been very careful in trying to find the right dot-com partner," said Deutsch Chairman-CEO Donny Deutsch. "For every dot-com we pitch, we've been turning away 20."

So far in 1999, Deutsch also has nabbed Pfizer's Zyrtec, Bank One Corp., Brink's and Citizen Watch Co. of America, while parting ways with Andrew Jergens Co., L.A. Cellular, Baskin-Robbins and Schieffelin & Somerset Co.'s Tanqueray.

Mr. Deutsch credits the new-business run to "an incredible team."

"We've been doing the integrated strategy better than anybody," he said. "It's our time."

Contributing: Jennifer Gilbert

Copyright October 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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