Sales up 30%: Arden scores with radio promotion

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Radio is now on the radar for Elizabeth Arden.

Based on double-digit sales gains it pegs to a targeted radio promotion effort for its new SkinSimple skin-care line, Elizabeth Arden is again turning to radio promotions for the relaunch of its Halston Z-14 men's fragrance this February. And more may be on the way.

The tactic, unusual for beauty marketers more typically wedded to print media with the occasional TV buy, was developed by Arden's public relations firm, Treister Murry Agency, Miami Beach, as a fast broad-reach way to build buzz-and sales-beyond the initial PR push for the March debut of Skinsimple, a line sold exclusively in Wal-Mart Stores. It was the first time Arden had used radio.

Treister Murry targeted 30 top face-care markets across the country, including San Diego and Phoenix, for the June promotion, offering DJs daily prize packs filled with Skinsimple products and a weekly $250 Wal-Mart gift certificate to give away for their own contests or one of four that the agency created. Among the more popular contests were those asking listeners to call in when they heard the smooching K-I-S-S [Keep It Skinsimple] sound of the day, and those where listeners offered their best "life-simplifying tips."

big boosts

Listeners listened. Dollar sales for Skinsimple increased an average of 18% in the 30 markets in the three weeks following the promotions, with Dallas sales up a whopping 40%, measurements made easier because of its Wal-Mart partner's tracking ability.

"The radio listener is more open to your message because it's not done in a 30-second advertising format," said Greg Griffin, VP-trade marketing, Elizabeth Arden. "Especially when DJs are given leeway to have fun with the promotions and chat about the brand, consumers don't feel like it's an ad," he said.

Carrie Bonner, industry manager for consumer products at market-research firm Kline & Co., said the radio tack is "interesting and different," which might help Arden in its challenging effort to build credibility for a totally new product line in a category driven by brand trust.

Due to its success with Skinsimple, Arden will apply a similar approach to re-energizing Halston Z-14, its classic men's brand that has slipped since its 1976 launch from a top prestige brand to a fairly small mass fragrance with roughly $11 million in retail sales for 2003, Kline & Co. research shows.

Surrounding new packaging featuring Nascar driver Jeff Gordon (the new face of Z-14), Treister Murry is developing radio promotions for top fragrance marketers closest to Nascar racetracks. The promotions will revolve around the popular driver and feature prizes including Halston Z-14 products and Jeff Gordon merchandise as well as grand prize gift certificates for local retail partners, such as J.C. Penney, that carry Z-14.

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