CAMPAIGNS: Product Launch - Bunnies turn men on to new makeup

Client: Aramis (New York), Playboy (New York)

PR Team: Playboy in-house PR dept.

Campaign: Surface 2001 Party Tour

Time Frame: August 2001 (10 dates)

Budget: Less than $1,000



All men know about makeup is that they think women spend too much on it,

apply too much of it, and spend too much time applying it. So what's a

company to do when it develops a line of skincare products for men, an

audience about as responsive to this market as its knuckle-dragging

ancestors on the evolutionary chain? Forge a union with a company that

knows how to reach men, of course.



That's why Aramis, launching its new Surface line of skincare products,

turned to Playboy, the magazine that's proven that it knows how to not

only reach men, but hold their attention.



Strategy



There are many avenues for selling cosmetics to women, but "men aren't

reading the fashion and lifestyle magazines," says Lisa Hawkins, Aramis

executive director of marketing. Realizing this, Aramis turned to

Playboy.



"We ran a feature on Surface," says Playboy creative services director

Donna Tavoso. "We then talked about how we could partner together."



Aramis had to first teach men how Surface products work, so an

advertorial page was created for Playboy. But while it showed that

Surface is "makeup for men that's not makeup," as Tavoso says, Aramis

knew men had to try the product themselves. "It's not like washing your

face with soap and water," Tavoso says. "It's beyond that."



Tactics



Because of men's natural aversion to cosmetics counters, Aramis couldn't

wait for men to discover Surface on their own. Guys need guidance, so

Aramis had to bring Surface to men.



"We held 10 parties across the US (at upscale venues such as New York's

W Hotel). Aramis figured the best way to attract men was to have the

parties hosted by a Playboy Playmate," says Tavoso. Knowing that a

Playmate host would be enough to draw a crowd, Playboy and Aramis sealed

the deal (and helped underwrite the cost) by selling opportunities to

sponsors such as Seagram's, which, of course, poured the drinks.

Needless to say, men showed up.



Unfortunately, the parties were tamer than those you find at the Playboy

mansion. "They were meant to be after-work happy hours," Tavoso

says.



"Surface was going for an upscale clientele coming in after work. It was

meant to be a scene, but not a wild scene. They were meant to have class

and sophistication."



Tavoso adds that men attending the parties were encouraged to have their

picture taken with the Playmate, mix and mingle, and eventually find

their way to an Aramis rep to learn how to use Surface products. "Our

market research shows that men felt there were not enough choices,"

Hawkins says, "and that companies were not creating enough products for

them." In response, everyone attending the parties was given packs

containing samples as they left.



Results



Only seven of the 10 parties were held, as the events of September 11

forced the postponement of parties in Seattle, LA, and San

Francisco.



But the other seven had strong attendance and local media coverage, with

The Dallas Morning News devoting the most space.



More importantly, however, according to Hawkins, interest in Surface

(currently available at 125 stores in select markets), continues to

grow.



"We'll build that market as the male audience becomes more sophisticated

over time," she says.



Future



Tavoso says that while Playboy has four other initiatives currently

underway with other partners, she claims that other companies are

calling, asking how they can tap into Playboy's power. Meanwhile,

Hawkins plans to keep working with Playboy, even though they "haven't

started to develop the next phase of our relationship." But she

emphasizes the importance of "using the voice of Playboy to talk to

readers in a voice they know, trust, and can relate to."



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