Revlon looks for new image-again

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Frustrated with continued sales declines and share losses, Revlon put its roughly $120 million account, currently handled by Interpublic Group of Cos.' Deutsch, New York, into review.

Revlon was bullish about the beyond-the-benefits, prestige-inspired global-image campaign Deutsch created for its struggling signature brand this past spring, but while executive VP-Chief Marketing Officer Stephanie Klein Peponis said recently that the $100 million effort is "increasing purchase intent and brand imagery," it has not had a positive impact on sales.

Quarterly sales down

Revlon reported last week that overall sales for its third quarter fell 7% to $294.4 million and combined shares of Revlon and its Almay brand in its largest category, color cosmetics, fell 1.2% (compared with share declines of 0.8% in its second quarter). In a call with analysts, Revlon CEO Jack Stahl noted that the U.S. mass market for color cosmetics is expected to grow less than 1% in 2004, but he is vowing improvement for 2005.

The "Bellissimo" effort, featuring Revlon spokescelebs including Julianne Moore and Halle Berry, was intended to tackle the mass-cosmetics category's loss of sales to sexier prestige players by shifting from a more product-focused message to a more emotional tug, but Revlon has been rethinking that strategy. Revlon shifted media dollars dramatically for this year's campaign, cutting 40% or more in spending from its stock fashion and beauty titles in favor of TV and entertainment titles offering promotional tie-ins to celebrity events to boost its Revlon on the Red Carpet strategy.

Promising that 2005 will make up for 2004's intended slow-down of new products to focus funds more on marketing, Revlon will push hard to differentiate its innovations in advertising and through more tactical measures including in-store efforts that will, for the first time, dovetail with its out-of-store messaging.

targeting older women

Pressure to perform in the coming months is especially strong as Revlon faces Procter & Gamble Co.'s own initiatives to overhaul its Cover Girl and Max Factor brands (AA, Aug. 9). Among Revlon's major pushes next year is the launch in January of a reformulation of Revlon's 10-year-old Age Defying face makeup collection to include Botafirm, an ingredient found in clinical tests to reduce the appearance of wrinkles by up to 50% within two weeks.

Advertising for the extensive Age Defying line-Revlon's attempt to better serve older women will bow in mid-January featuring Revlon's new spokesmodel, 58-year-old Susan Sarandon, and Julianne Moore and loudly proclaiming its bold benefit claims. Revlon also plans to "restage" its Super Lustrous lipstick and introduce Fabulash Mascara, Almay Truly Lasting Lipcolor and Intense i-Color, among others.

Like rival P&G, Revlon is also looking for ways to build the shopping experience for the mass channel, including taking a page from prestige cosmetics marketers to experiment using retailers' own beauty advisers to disseminate samples and information on Revlon. Ms. Peponis has said that consistency of the in-store message with the larger advertising message has been impossible given Revlon's own inconsistency-two agencies and five taglines over the last six years (not to mention four chief marketing offers and three CEOs since 1996). Now, of course, regardless of the agency, Revlon will work to offer what she refers to as "360-degree branding around promotions and advertising."

Deutsch was first assigned media buying responsibilities for Revlon and AOR status for Almay in 2001 and added creative duties for Revlon in 2002. Revlon spent $122 million in measured media in 2003 and $61.4 million from January through July of this year, per TNS Media Intelligence/CMR.

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