Revlon CMO out as ad costs rise

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The departure of Chief Marketing Officer Debra Leipman-Yale at cash-strapped Revlon casts doubt on the future of the company's entertainment-focused strategy.

Ms. Leipman-Yale was the architect of the cosmetics marketer's splashy tie-in with the James Bond film "Die Another Day," which contributed to a sales uptick at the company, but at significant expense.

Her tenure saw rising sales and market share despite an ugly market for U.S. beauty. Revlon said its color-cosmetics market share was up 0.4 points to 22.6% in the second quarter, citing figures from VNU's ACNielsen Corp., and it had five of the top 10 new color cosmetics products of the past year.

Revlon's U.S. sales rose 3.2% to $405.7 million in the first half despite sales declines in its core color-cosmetics category and hair-color categories over the past 52 weeks, according to VNU's ACNielsen Corp. in data including panel estimates of Wal-Mart Stores sales.

"Considering what they've spent, four-tenths of a point in cosmetics isn't that much," said an executive close to Revlon, citing an increase of $15 million in marketing support in the second quarter.

Programs in the past year by Revlon and its agency, Interpublic Group of Cos.' Deutsch, have included a broad-based tie-ins with "Die Another Day" and an upcoming "Revlon Rocks the Holiday" televised concert sponsorship behind its holiday "Red Rocks" cosmetics line.

Another executive close to the company said CEO Jack Stahl was looking for a more analytical, numbers-oriented chief marketing officer in his own image when he appointed Stephanie Klein-Peponis to expand her existing duties to cover marketing.

"Having accomplished so much over the past 18 months, Debra believed that she had achieved her initial goals and that this is the right thing for her to do," a spokeswoman said. "Our CEO, Jack Stahl, and Debra agreed that this is the right thing to do for the company and that Stephanie is the right person to carry us into the future."

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Neither Ms. Leipman-Yale nor Ms. Klein-Peponis could be reached for comment.

Ms. Klein-Peponis, who began her relationship with Revlon as a consultant from Boston Consulting Group 19 months ago, has a quantitative-economics degree from Stanford and a Harvard M.B.A., having served 1997 as VP-strategic planning and business development at Toys `R' Us.

In her consulting role, she developed Revlon's plans to spend more on marketing support. Revlon is her first chief-marketing position. She's the fourth chief marketing officer to serve under three CEOs since 1996.

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