Revlon Opts to Keep Carat

NEW YORK In an unexpected reversal, cosmetics giant Revlon said it would not place its media planning and buying chores at Interpublic Group’s Initiative, but will retain the incumbent, Aegis Group’s Carat.

Last month, the New York-based client awarded media to Initiative without a review. Revlon spent $120 million on U.S. ads in 2006, up 22 percent over the previous year, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

Kiki Rees, svp, media and communications at Revlon, said the proposed switch was facilitated in part by the fact that Initiative has close ties to Revlon creative shop Endeavor (Interpublic has a minority stake in the agency’s marketing arm), and that hiring Initiative would result in cost savings on media services.

“We tried this opportunity with Initiative, but we couldn’t get to agreeable terms on both sides so we’re moving it back,” said Rees. “There was kind of a partnership there [between Initiative and Endeavor] that we were excited to explore, but we will be able to get that benefit from Endeavor and Carat, as well.”

Initiative confirmed that the two sides “were unable to agree on satisfactory business terms,” an agency rep said, declining further comment.

As the year began, Revlon launched a major national push with singer Sheryl Crow that debuted on the Super Bowl telecast, an unusual venue for a product that targets women. IPG’s Momentum, an event marketing company, created that campaign. The company has a lot riding on the new Colorist line after two product launches last year—for a line of cosmetics called Vital Radiance and a relaunch of the Almay brand-failed to meet expectations.

The media-agency reversal was the second piece of good news for Carat this week. On Monday, Philips confirmed that Carat had successfully defended its estimated $600 million global media account, overcoming WPP’s Mediaedge:cia in the final round of a review that began last October.

Despite the setback on Revlon, Initiative is off to a strong start this year with the February award of the consolidated $400 million media planning and buying account for Bayer’s consumer care division after a review. Previously, Omnicom’s OMD handled planning on Bayer, while Initiative had buying chores.