U.S. cosmetics giant thrusts into Europe

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LONDON -- Renaissance Cosmetics Inc., the third biggest mass fragrance and cosmetics company in the U.S., is starting its thrust into Europe with the appointment of key personnel and its first ad agency for the region.

London-based independent agency Duckworth Finn Grubb Waters has secured the assignment, which will initially be worth $8m in the U.K., but is expected to roll out to the rest of Europe in the new year, backed by a separate budget, says Sue Powell, newly-installed marketing director of fragrance subsidiary Dana U.K. Powell also has responsibility for the rest of Europe.

Three-year-old, Greenwich, Connecticut-based Renaissance has grown fast in the U.S. through acquiring and investing in underperforming brands. Founded by Thomas Bonoma, a Havard Business School professor who worked for Benckiser, the company now owns more than 40 fragrance brands in the U.S., including Chantilly, Navy and Navigator.

In December last year, it bought Procter & Gamble's fragrance brands (previously owned by Shulton), including men's fragrances Insignia, Rapport and Mandate and Le Jardin for women. These are all currently on sale in the U.K.

"The philosophy of the company is to reinvigorate well-known brand names that we have acquired," says Powell. "They were all reasonable-sized brands at one point but because they've never been core to their previous owners, they haven't had the investment and support. Our strategy is to give that investment to make them successful and relevant to today's consumers."

First work from Duckworth Finn will support a new launch, Fetish, targeting girls between the ages of 12 and 19, which will aim to blitz the mass market with double the average ad spend for the category. In the 12 months to April 1997, total ad spending on youth fragrances in the U.K. mass market was $3.8m, according to MMS.

TV will be the primary medium for the new brand, which will be designed in bright colors and packaged in a clear cylinder to appeal to teenage girls. It will pitch against brand leader Revlon's Charlie, as well as Faberge's Addiction, Yardley's So..? and Coty's Exclamation. "It's common in the mass market to copy what is doing well in fine fragrances, but this is a completely new fragrance development," says Powell.

London will be Dana's European headquarters. Powell joined Dana this month from rival Revlon. Before that, she worked for Cover Girl and then Rimmel.

Copyright August 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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