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March 6, 2009 6:50 PM

Beauty, Business, Media

Chasing Pages in the Sun

Occasionally, during last week's annual Personal Care Products Council meeting in Boca Raton, Fla., there was some grumbling about the need to change the organization's name -- again. It had been changed 18 months ago from the decades-old Cosmetic, Toiletry...

Occasionally, during last week's annual Personal Care Products Council meeting in Boca Raton, Fla., there was some grumbling about the need to change the organization's name -- again. It had been changed 18 months ago from the decades-old Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association in order to make the group seem more consumer friendly.


Well, if any cosmetics executives are serious about finding a more relevant moniker, maybe they could choose Editor & Publisher, judging from the media turnout at the meeting. Even though attendance had withered (from 650 last year to 400) with cosmetics manufacturers threatening to go the way of the Last of the Mohicans, the magazine contingent was there in depth, as usual. Of the 356 attendees listed in the program, 120 of them were from the media, mostly from women's fashion and lifestyle magazines, with assorted trade publications and even electronic media thrown in. (Indeed the organizers of PCPC invited two WWD editors to participate in a panel discussion, including me.)



But the turnout was more impressive than just the numbers. Sitting amid the blond sea of beauty editors, listening to product presentations, were some of the biggest honchos in publishing, including Ed Menicheschi of Vanity Fair and Bill Wackerman of Glamour. Among the biggest guns, Richard D. Beckman, president of Condé Nast Media Group, was seen making the rounds, and Michael Clinton, executive vice president, chief  marketing officer and publishing director of Hearst Magazines, was on the job.

----------                What do you think of the increasing presence of the media at beauty industry conferences like PCPC? Comment below.         -----------


There are those who pooh-poohed talk of an overflowing media presence by saying the annual meeting has been thick with publishers since the Nineties with the explosion in fashion magazines. Indeed, they were welcomed as giving the meeting some added zest and needed cash flow at a pivotal time when the fragrance suppliers, who had competed with each other as founders of the feast in throwing lavish parties, began to fade as the profitability of their businesses turned anemic. Magazines took up the slack by sponsoring various activities around the pool, including free haircuts, ice cream and staging lunchtime concerts by boy bands. When the late Steve Florio ran Condé Nast, he would entertain cosmetics advertisers on his yacht.

 
The media presence became a drawing card for manufacturers looking for an efficient and easy way to get their message across to magazine editors.

 
But now tough times have gone from bad to worse. A number of old CTFA stalwarts -- including Avon Products Inc., the prestige division of Coty Inc., International Flavors and Fragrances and Givaudan -- scaled back their presences this year. But the media crowd, desperate for ad dollars, hung tough. They showed up with bells on, even though the boy bands were gone.


The result is a slight shift in balance and tone. The role of PCPC, the organization, is more relevant than ever with the mushrooming onslaught of product safety regulation out of the European Union, from a growing number of states and bloggers from seemingly everywhere. But as for the meeting itself, the gravitas of PCPC's mission is increasingly being leavened by the meeting's alter ego, the media event.
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