Avon calling: With a brand makeover, the beauty company targets millennials

Georgian Haynes, a 29-year-old architect based in New York City, started selling Avon when she was in high school. Over the course of 12 years, Haynes’ Avon business has helped her pay off her debt and school loans.

“It also helped me in my personal life. When I first started, I was terrified to speak to people. [But] now, I speak at conferences in front of thousands of people and take on leadership positions that I would never have thought of taking on otherwise,” said Haynes in a promotional YouTube video as part of Avon’s “This is Boss Life” campaign that debuted on Thursday.

This campaign is coming at a time of rebirth for the company. Avon Products sold its North American division to private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management in March of this year after steady revenue declines. Struggling to attract new sales reps — its famous army of Avon ladies — New Avon is looking to refresh its brand to appeal to a younger generation.

And so “This Boss Life,” with its message of independence and you-go-girl self-empowerment, aims to recruit more sales reps like Haynes: energetic, outgoing, social and — though New Avon will push back at the idea — millennials.

“We are not going after millennials,” demurred Matt Harker, vp of marketing for Avon. “We are looking for representatives who are self-starters and want to take control of their own life, regardless of their age.”

Maybe. But  Sandy Greenberg, executive creative director for Terri & Sandy — the female-owned agency that created the “This is Boss Life”campaign  — admitted that the agency conducted intense research on Gen Y.

“Entrepreneurship is on the rise for this generation,” she said. “The campaign captures the feeling of freedom that comes from being your own boss and taps into the passion of women who love beauty. This could have been done years ago, but [Avon] didn’t.”

The major campaign message: Avon allows a woman to build her own business and earn extra around the flexibility of her own hours.

Aside from Haynes, the campaign includes a music video featuring a remake of “I Will Survive” with an Avon theme, and two YouTube videos featuring other three representatives: Mom entrepreneur Lydia, and power couple Milagoros and Carols. Ads will run on TV, print, and digital, including programmatic, retargeting display as well as ads on Facebook and Instagram.

Avon will put the campaign song on video messaging app Dubsmash next week to let users record and share a video of themselves lipsyncing the song. On National Bosses Day on Oct. 17, the company will also roll out branded social media photo filters where people can upload their photo to a “This is Boss Life”-themed frame online and click to instantly share to their Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest account.


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