Brand Skews Younger and Sexier With Carolyn Murphy

By Published on .

NEW YORK ( -- Estee Lauder is getting a makeover.

The venerable brand's spring campaign features a new style and a new face, which management hopes will also translate into a younger, fresher attitude.

New print ads, shot by fashion photographer Stephen

Model Carolyn Murphy is the new face of Estee Lauder. Click to see larger version.

Meisel, and TV spots by photographer Herb Ritts feature model Carolyn Murphy, the brand's new "face." She replaces actress Elizabeth Hurley, who had been Lauder's spokeswoman for seven years; Ms. Hurley will continue to appear on fragrance ads and make personal appearances for the scent lines.

"Changing the face was fundamental for us. We wanted to signal change," said Patrick Bouquet-Chavanne, group president of the Estee Lauder Cos.

Younger and sexier
The ads, from A&R Media, New York, are meant to convey a more youthful, sexier attitude without alienating the 35-and-over demographic that is loyal to the brand, Mr. Bousquet-Chavanne said. The copy will be more direct, and product photography will be a bit edgier and have more energy than the straight shots of the past, he said.

"It's younger, it's freer ... it's relevant for the times," he said.

Lauder also went for a more unified look than previous campaigns, said Aerin Lauder, the company's vice president of global advertising. All print ads were shot by Mr. Meisel and used the same stylist and makeup artist to create a consistent image for the brand.

"I like the idea that you can cover the logo and you can tell what brand it is" based on the look and the photography of the ads, she said.

New tagline
The campaign also unveils a new tagline: "Defining Beauty." The statement is meant to evoke the cosmetic company's origins, dating back 50 years to its namesake, founder Estee Lauder. Making that connection was key to the retail trade, which was worried the face-lift would be too drastic but has reacted well to the campaign, Ms. Lauder said.

The campaign broke with a TV ad Dec. 25 and print ad in January magazines to introduce a new skin-care product, Advanced Night Repair Night Recovery Complex. But the bulk of the campaign will come in spring, including new product introductions of Re-Nutriv Ultimate Lifting Creme and Pure Color Crystal Gloss. Ads for those products, as well as new creative for existing products such as Lightsource Transforming Moisturizer and Lauder's spring color collection, will break in March magazines.

Ads breaking in summer magazines will feature Lauder's sun-care line and fall ads will introduce a color collection based on earth tones and a new lipstick line, Pure Velvet.

In addition to print and TV ads, new radio spots will break in March, and the visuals from the campaign are being used for in-store displays. The brand's Web site,, will be revamped in spring to include art from the new campaign.

Increased ad spending
Estee Lauder Cos. spent $65 million on measured U.S. media to support the Lauder brand in the last fiscal year, which ended June 30, 2001. Mr. Bousquet-Chavanne said the company plans to spend more during the current fiscal year, despite the ongoing recession.

Prestige cosmetics lines have taken a sharp hit in the current recession, particularly the fragrance lines. Besides the weak economy, many upscale brands do heavy business at duty-free shops overseas, but drops in air travel have affected sales.

In late December, Estee Lauder Cos. significantly trimmed its sales and earnings estimates for the current quarter, citing soft fragrance sales and weak travel retail business; the company dropped its projection to a 2% to 3% drop in dollar sales from a 1% growth forecast.

"It's nothing we haven't been through before," Mr. Bousquet-Chavanne said.

He recalled he headed Lauder's travel retailing unit in 1991 during the Persian Gulf War and saw business suffer and recover. The grim outlook may actually work in Lauder's benefit, he said: The brand will get more mileage out of its spending, thanks to better media pricing and lower visibility among its competitors, many of which have cut back their own spending.

Most Popular
In this article: