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.
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
"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."
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
"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
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.
Only seven of the 10 parties were held, as the events of September 11
forced the postponement of parties in Seattle, LA, and San
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
"We'll build that market as the male audience becomes more sophisticated
over time," she says.
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."