Lenart turns Godiva toward stylish, self-indulgent brand

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Jacquie Lenart gets massages at least once a week. Why? Because she deserves a reward and, while in the past she definitely reached for chocolate, "now that I have great chocolate at arm's length, my personal treat is massage."

In the year and a half since becoming VP-marketing for Godiva Chocolatier (where a bowl full of samples is put out on the front desk every afternoon), the 36-year-old native of Sydney, Australia, has recognized that she is not alone in looking for ways to indulge herself.

"The common denominator among all women is this idea of `deservingness,'" Ms. Lenart said, "of fulfilling that inner diva inside, whether through the purchase of a pair of Manolo Blahniks or a cup of Starbucks coffee." Or, she hopes, a box or two or three of Godiva chocolates-not, as it has long been thought of, as a gift, but for yourself.

That insight, on which the company's latest sexy, fashion-inspired "Diva" campaign is based, was first developed by Margeotes Fertitta & Partners, New York, following a review where the Campbell Soup Co. unit's longtime agency managed to retain the business by suggesting the brand turn its image on its ear. The idea of loosening up the ribbons on its classic gold boxes and turning Godiva into a fashionable "It" Girl hit close to home for Ms. Lenart, who has long pined to move beyond the data-driven world of package goods.

deep desire

"I'm nearer to heaven now," she beamed. "Deep down I've always had the desire to come to Godiva."

Straight out of college at the University of New South Wales in Sydney where she graduated summa cum laude with a degree in marketing, Ms. Lenart started as a marketing assistant for Unilever's Omo washing powder. In 1999, Ms. Lenart moved to the U.S. to Campbell's Pepperidge Farm unit for a supposed one-year transfer helping drive Goldfish innovation, which developed into a permanent assignment. In 2002, she was tapped to head the effort to spice up Godiva.

Paul Alexander, VP-global advertising at Campbell, said, "Jacquie was the lynchpin in the whole campaign because she really unearthed the insights and was the voice of the consumer." Ms. Lenart, he said, happened to be the only woman in most of the sessions "and she really internalized what the Godiva woman wants."

In fact, Ms. Lenart-a self-proclaimed social butterfly-has become a personal ambassador for Godiva on nights and weekends, taking herself along with the goody-bag treats at galas all over Manhattan, her adopted home town. New packaging promotions, store displays and advertising are all inspired by couture fashion designers' ready-to-wear collections intended to appeal more to the 25-to-35-year-old set versus Godiva's traditional 35-plus demo.

A billboard featuring the provocative new Go-Diva campaign towers over Soho, a location that reflects that new, contemporary image, Ms. Lenart said, and that inspired a Godiva store manager in from out of town to proclaim, "Now I feel like I work for a fashion company." Ms. Lenart, elatedly, feels the same way. And she's not sure she can ever turn back.

"Once you've touched the quick pace of retail, where you can see the results so quickly and can play, test and learn. ... It may be hard to go back to a world where you rely more on IRI data," she said.

Cheat Sheet

Name: Jacquie Lenart

Age: 36

Who: The woman Campbell Soup Co. has tapped to bring out the inner diva (and, hence, the Godiva-buyer) in all women. Ms. Lenart, formerly with Campbell's Arnott division in her native Australia and then Pepperidge Farm in the U.S., was brought on as VP-marketing of the company's luxury Godiva retail unit in February of 2002 to resurrect the brand. Major investment in consumer insight has resulted in a new sexy, fashion- inspired image of Godiva that positions the chocolates as total pleasure and Ms. Lenart as its unceasing socialite ambassador.

Personal pleasure: Weekly massages

Favorite chocolate: Anything with nuts, specifically Godiva's Bark, its nut and chocolate collection and the new G Collection - "it's a visual treat."

Local hangout: Living on New York City's Upper West Side, Ms. Lenart uses the neighborhood's local Godiva store as her "little laboratory" to check out the manifestation of her new strategy.

Biggest challenge: Building an everyday-pleasure platform for Godiva that builds the luxury brand outside of traditional chocolate-buying seasons of holidays and Valentine's. "We want people to see the brand as an indulgence for themselves, not just as a gift."

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