Revlon launches Bond line

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Debt-burdened Revlon is introducing a cosmetic line styled after MGM Distribution Co.'s "Die Another Day" James Bond movie. The trick is to introduce the 007 Color Collection with a marketing splash large enough to build sales without further imperiling it financially.

The campaign represents the most extensive marketing effort from Revlon's new management team and ad agency. Debra Leipman-Yale, exec VP-global general manager at Revlon, joined in April after nearly 20 years at Clairol, where she was most recently president, Clairol International. Two months earlier, former Coca-Cola Co. President-Chief Operating Officer Jack Stahl took the helm as president-CEO, while Rochelle Udell, most recently president, Fairchild Internet, became exec VP-creative development in January.

The same month, Interpublic Group of Cos.' Deutsch, New York, won creative responsibilities for the Revlon brand from Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners, New York. Deutsch already handled media buying for all Revlon brands as well as creative duties on Almay.

Ms. Leipman-Yale describes the group's collective task as "re-energizing" the brand, and from Wall Street's perspective, their efforts cannot happen soon enough. For the second quarter ended June 30, 2002, Revlon lost $38.9 million compared to a loss of $56 million the same period one year earlier. Per-share losses for the second quarter were 75 cents each, vs. a $1.07 per share loss one year ago. Net sales for the period were $308.2 million, compared to $322.1 million a year ago.

That puts pressure on the 007 Color Collection by Revlon, which includes colors for eyes, cheeks, lips and nails, as well as fragrance. The line makes its debut this week, accompanied by TV, print, online, public relations and promotional campaigns tied in to the opening of the film, which Revlon sponsors (see the ads: QwikFIND aao08u).

Creative work from Deutsch features Halle Berry, one of the film's stars and also Revlon's long-running spokesmodel.

Numerous past Revlon spokesmodels, including Kim Basinger, Grace Jones and Carey Lowell, have acted as Bond girls. But this is the first time Revlon has teamed up in a cooperative marketing deal with Eon Productions, which controls merchandising rights for the James Bond franchise.

The effort also marks Revlon's first foray into playful products like the Triple Agent ColorStick, a $6 item that can bring color to lips, eyes or cheeks, as well as limited-edition gift sets linked to a Bond movie.

Revlon wouldn't disclose spending on the effort, but the company said it would spend more than it did in last year's fourth quarter when it slashed spending to save costs. In the fourth quarter of 2001, Revlon spent $1.1 million, according to Taylor Nelson Sofre's CMR.

The current marketing push could affect Revlon's already precarious financial situation, one reason Moody's Investors Service on Oct. 2 assigned the company its lowest possible liquidity rating. Revlon's situation, said Russ Gorman, VP-senior analyst at Moody's, is one of "good news, bad news." It is taking steps to enhance its brand but doing it "at a time when its liquidity is constrained. ... It's unclear how quickly and effective their marketing effort will be in generating additional cash flow."

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