REVLON PLACES SUMMER BET ON PARIS FASHION TV SPECIAL

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Revlon Consumer Products has inked a deal with Event Television International to be a major broadcast sponsor of "The World Fashion Preview From Paris," the first time the autumn/winter haute couture collections of the world's leading designers will be recorded and packaged as a TV special.

Revlon secured exclusivity in the cosmetics and haircare categories by paying more than $1.5 million for a third of the 2-hour program's commercial inventory.

STRATEGIC DEPARTURE

The sponsorship is a strategic departure for Revlon, since it doesn't usually spend much on advertising in July, when the special is scheduled to air -- on ABC in prime time. It's not known if Revlon will use the occasion to break new creative or air existing ads.

"We immediately sensed the importance of this first-ever fashion event to communicate Revlon's fashion and color authority to millions of women," said Kathy Dwyer, president of Revlon, in a statement.

Event Television also has signed Choice Hotels to a broadcast sponsorship. Terms weren't disclosed.

The production company will begin formal pitches to additional advertisers and ad agencies this week.

Event Television said it believes "The World Fashion Preview From Paris" can be a major TV event for women.

"If you look at American culture, the major, prime-time special events are seemingly male in orientation -- the Super Bowl, the National Basketball Association finals, March Madness. The Oscars or a figure-skating championship are appreciated across gender lines, but we'd submit there are no special big-time events for women," said Terry Jastrow, Event Television president.

Until now, designers have strictly controlled attendance and TV coverage of their autumn/winter and spring/summer previews, for fear their designs will be copied. In the past, the federation that oversees the legally established French criteria for haute couture has permitted TV outlets to telecast a total of just seven designs from all those previewed.

NO LIMITS ON SHOWING DESIGNS

Event Television will be able to show as many as it can squeeze into 2 hours, which will air the first Thursday after editing, most likely July 30.

Mr. Jastrow attributed the newly relaxed position to a new age of consumer marketing in the fashion industry, marked by mass-media advertising, brand extensions and the paid and unpaid endorsements of entertainers and royalty.

"The preliminary response is overwhelmingly favorable for the show itself," said Jim Wasilko, Event Television's exec VP-sales and marketing. "The concerns [advertisers] have are: It's expensive and it's really not the greatest period for TV viewing."

Event Television projects a rating of between a 10 and a 20; even the lower end of that range would be high for summer.

While Event Television executives declined to break out the cost per 30-second spot, they said the price is steep for summer but factor in the hefty -- and undisclosed -- TV rights fee and production costs.

Event Television is negotiating with top-name celebrities to host the show, which will feature the designs of John Galliano for Christian Dior, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Christian LaCroix, Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel, Thierry Mugler and Emanuel Ungaro.

While Event Television bought the network time for the special, ABC will handle on-air promotion, with additional promotional support likely from major sponsors, including Revlon.

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