Mr. Toews, 41, formerly senior VP-group creative director on L'Oreal at McCann-Erickson Worldwide, New York, joined Coty in the new position of exec VP-ideas and image, in which he oversees not only the look of Coty's advertising but also its public relations, product development and packaging.
"The opportunities here are fabulous," Mr. Toews said, referring to the fact the company was spun off in 1996 by its German parent, Joh. A. Benckiser GmbH.
The move brought together under the Coty banner mass-market brands such as Jovan Musk and Calgon Body Mist with the prestige brands of Benckiser's Lancaster division. Those include the Lancaster skincare brand and fragrances named after designers JilSander and Vivienne Westwood.
His main challenge, as he sees it, is to showcase Coty's image as a global company that offers both mass market and prestige lines around the world.
He's well qualified for the challenge, said his former boss at McCann, New York Chairman Nina DiSesa, describing him as a creative who's also a great strategic thinker.
"I really miss him already. He's really a great creative guy," she said.
Leaving the agency world for the client side wasn't difficult, said Mr. Toews, who pointed out he has spent most of his career moving between the two, mostly working with cosmetics and personal-care marketers.
`A LOT OF FUN'
"For me, it's a lot of fun. Who wouldn't want to be in this category? It's the most exciting category I can think of," he said.
He first entered the cosmetics arena in the 1980s at Peter Rogers Associates, a New York boutique best known for creating the classic "What becomes a legend most" campaign for Blackglama furs.
At Rogers, he worked as a copywriter on ads for La Prairie skincare, which led to other cosmetics and fashion assignments, including a stint as a consultant to Japanese cosmetics company Shiseido.
He first worked with Coty as a copywriter at Select Communications, the agency for some Lancaster brands, before moving to retailer The Limited as creative director and eventually to McCann.
DEVELOPING A TEAM
Mr. Toews plans to hire a team to develop products tied to emerging trends. It will be made up of people with "eclectic backgrounds" in advertising, fashion and cosmetics businesses who can spot trends and find ways to capitalize on them.
"We can do all the market research in the world, but at the end of the day, it comes down to gut instinct," he said.
A corporate branding campaign is a possibility, but he said it was still too soon to get into that topic.
"I love advertising, don't get me wrong. But I love the opportunity to take the creative challenge in other ways than creating advertising," Mr. Toews said.
Moving to the client side also brings him more responsibility. In an agency, Mr. Toews joked, "you always have the client to blame" when things don't go as