Women to Watch

Andrea Robinson

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Getting editorial coverage for the many new initiatives in the works from Estee Lauder will be a breeze since the brand's first-ever chief marketing officer, Andrea Robinson, gave many of today's top beauty editors their first jobs.

Such relationships were forged through Ms. Robinson's 30-year career in the magazine world with posts at Mademoiselle, Seventeen and Vogue. Adding to that background is a keen business sense cultivated from years leading Revlon's Ultima II, then Revlon's store marketing division, and, finally, L'Oreal USA's Helena Rubinstein brand and its successful Ralph Lauren Fragrances business. These credentials impressed John Demsey, new global brand president for the Estee Lauder line. Mr. Demsey hired Ms. Robinson as part of a new beauty dream team intended to modernize the business in the coming months.

"Andrea is a new breed of marketer and businesswoman because of her unique synthesis of editorial, fashion and product savvy, combined with marketing discipline and a global view," Mr. Demsey says. And, of course, her contacts don't hurt.

Beauty editors, most of whom were at one time hired by or at least worked with Ms. Robinson, have followed her many marketing successes, and agree she's a "visionary." Now they're anxiously awaiting the changes Ms. Robinson will bring to the venerable but dated flagship of beauty behemoth Estee Lauder Cos.

Felicia Milewicz, beauty director at Conde Nast Publications' Glamour who was hired as Ms. Robinson's secretary 30 years ago, sings her former boss's praises. She cites Ms. Robinson's "extraordinary insights, fantastic sense of beauty, amazing taste. ... I cannot imagine but that something extraordinary will happen."

In fact, extraordinary things have happened under Ms. Robinson in her former positions because of her "great eye and the fact that she is always championing new lines," says Linda Wells, editor of Conde Nast's Allure and at one time under Ms. Robinson at Vogue. Most notably, she says, Ms. Robinson is credited with developing in the 1980s the Nakeds line of natural-hue cosmetics for Ultima II, which revolutionized the color palette of modern makeup.

On the job only since May 1, Ms. Robinson has a clear idea of the marketing challenge ahead: "Estee Lauder is a giantess and, as such, is often more rooted to the way we've done business in the past. As more and more market share gets gobbled up by indie brands, one-hit wonders and new distribution channels, we have to become more lithe and begin to think more like a smaller brand to stay relevant and develop those personal relationships women are looking for with the products they buy."