The direct-sales company said Monday that Patrick Dempsey, the actor known as McDreamy on ABC's "Grey's Anatomy," will be the face of a signature men's fragrance scheduled for a November debut in the U.S. Dempsey's wife, makeup artist Jillian Dempsey, has been Avon's global creative color director since July 2006.
"I felt comfortable going with Avon because my wife has such a great relationship with them. I wasn't going into something blindly," said Patrick Dempsey. "I do feel that Avon is changing. It is moving forward. The face is younger, and it is revamping in a positive way. You are seeing that with the sales. It is fun to be part of that transition with Avon."
Avon declined to discuss terms of the multiyear contract with Dempsey, 42, but industry sources estimate he could be guaranteed $5 million to $6 million over three years. Dempsey is going to be creative director of the fragrance project as part of his role with Avon, according to Claudia Poccia, Avon's global president of Mark and strategic alliances.
"This will be arguably the strongest franchise in the company's history," said Andrea Jung, Avon's chairman and chief executive officer. "Fragrance has always been an important category. The company was founded in 1886 as the California Perfume Company. One hundred twenty-two years later, $10 billion in revenues and growing, [fragrance] still is a critical category and, last year, our fastest-growing category."
Within Avon's beauty division in the fourth quarter last year, the fragrance business grew 20 percent, outpacing color cosmetics at 16 percent and skin care at 6 percent, respectively. However, personal care chalked up 21 percent growth. Overall, the company's fourth-quarter revenues climbed 17.4 percent to $3.08 billion from $2.62 billion the prior year, while profits dropped 30 percent to $128.9 million from $184.1 million as Avon continued its multiyear turnaround plan.
"The business is growing; the focus on celebrities and alliances has been working and is building momentum," said Jung. "With Patrick's accomplishments, his broad appeal, his authenticity, combined with the momentum we are experiencing in this [fragrance] category, we have a big opportunity to really break through to a new level in the men's segment."