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Elizabeth Arden Co. will get a facelift this fall, with new advertising created by its first outside agency of record, J. Walter Thompson USA, New York.

JWT will handle an account that has been in-house for as long as anyone at Arden can remember. Unilever, a JWT client, acquired Arden in 1989.

The global assignment for approximately $100 million in advertising is part of an effort to revamp marketing efforts and put up a stronger presence in a competitive market for high-priced cosmetics.


In addition to such brands as Ceramide skincare and Fifth Avenue and Splendor fragrances, agency projects include interactive commerce and other ventures to roll out in late 1999 and 2000.

Hiring JWT is part of a "creative evolution," said Peter England, Arden's president-CEO, adding the company plans to overhaul its approach to advertising and break away from the traditional look of cosmetics ads.

Arden is "definitely looking into" interactive marketing, said Mr. England, although he wouldn't elaborate on e-commerce plans, noting that Arden would first show those plans to retailers.

Like most "prestige" cosmetics houses, Arden distributes its product almost exclusively through department stores.

Arden is testing a relationship-marketing program, developed by Rapp Collins Worldwide but executed by sister Omnicom Group shop Team South, New York.

Over the past year, Team South has sent six direct-mail pieces to customers of Dillard's department stores in Texas, said Francine Edelman, managing director. An analysis of the results of this effort will help Arden develop one-on-one marketing programs, she said.

Neither Mr. England nor JWT CEO Chris Jones would elaborate on the look of new advertising, except to say it would be different from traditional beauty ads.

"We're very excited about the work -- it's a wonderful brand which has plenty of opportunity to be transformed," Mr. Jones said.

Arden has several product launches slated for this year, including an extension of White Diamonds fragrance from its successful Elizabeth Taylor line, a breath-freshening lipstick, a new fragrance and an herbal skin treatment.

The lipstick line, called Lip Lip Hooray, and the fragrance line, Green Tea, both will be launched in mid-July; the as-yet-unnamed her-bal anti-aging product, part of its Ceramide skincare brand, will move to retailers by yearend (AA, April 5).


Arden is one of many prestige brands trying to redefine their presence in the $1.9 billion U.S. cosmetics and $1.5 billion skincare markets. Venerable lines are up against stronger competition, and new distribution channels are challenging department stores' role.

Last month, Helena Rubinstein through parent Cosmair returned to the U.S. market for the first time since 1983 with a New York spa that sells a revamped line. And Estee Lauder Cos., the top dog in department stores, has been on a buying binge to diversify its business.

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