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Revlon Chairman Ron Perelman knows the benefits the right kind of attention can bring to his companies. Yet logic seems to be a victim in his decision to pull all Revlon ads from Hearst Corp. magazines and TV stations, a step involving an estimated $5 million chunk of the company's ad budget.

Word is he was angered by a story about his companion, Patricia Duff, in Hearst's September Esquire. Revlon, however, says the tiff was over positioning of Revlon ads vis-a-vis its competitors in Hearst magazines.

We find that explanation hard to swallow. If ad-positioning is the cause, what's to be gained by pulling out? Is no position better than a less favorable position?

Advertising, after all, is not just an expenditure; it's an investment. A dollar's worth of advertising is designed to return a dollar-plus worth of sales. In Revlon's case, the company said the dollars have shifted to Conde Nast magazines. Even if that's so, we assume readers of Hearst's women's magazines don't all see Conde Nast's titles.

The lost $5 million will hurt Hearst. But won't giving up the Hearst buy, including three of the top 25 magazines, hurt Revlon as well?

It's equally puzzling if he acted after failing to get Hearst to pull the Esquire story. As a new-media baron (he controls New World Communications, a TV station group), Mr. Perelman must know legitimate media, including beauty books, can't let advertisers call the shots.

Mr. Perelman drew raves, including ours, for his stunning alliance with Rupert Murdoch in the TV world. Now he's put the spotlight on Revlon and himself in a less flattering light. Can Revlon's vital media strategy, where hard-headed realism should reign, be turned upside down by the passions of the moment? That's not the picture Mr. Perelman wants, but it's the one left behind by his action.

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