Campaign Entices Women to Commit Brand Heresy

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Reflect.com, Procter & Gamble's Internet beauty care site that enables women to create customized cosmetics, skin-care and hair-care products, debuted a sassy direct mail and print campaign last week via Rapp Collins, New York, to generate interest in a site that hasn't officially launched.


The new San-Francisco-based e-commerce business is the product of a partnership between P&G, Cincinnati, and RedPoint Ventures, a venture capital firm formed by Institutional Venture Partners, Menlo Park, CA. And it represents a departure for the stodgy consumer products giant, which provided the bulk of the $50 million investment to launch a beauty care site where Oil of Olay and Cover Girl products are nowhere to be found and products are not available at retail outlets.


"Reflect is brand equity heresy," said Nathan Estruth, co-leader of the Reflect.com launch team and marketing director at P&G, who described it as the ultimate antibrand. "It's a brand that evolves and changes based on individual need."


The marketing plan reflects that heresy as well by turning traditional mass marketing on its head.


"We're starting Reflect with one-to-one marketing strategies, which begins with direct mail," Estruth said.


Two separate direct mail packages with the "It's the Image of You" tagline were sent last week - a dimensional mailing with a folding cube inside a white glossy cardboard box and a 3-inch by 5-inch frosted white envelope with a business card-style insert - to targeted online prospects across a wide age range. The style and sensibility is youthful and quirky, but the design is meant to appeal beyond 20-somethings.


"It's a psychographic cut rather than a demographic cut," he said. "We're learning and testing, and we'll continue to grow fairly broad as this site goes up."


Although the Reflect.com site is still in its beta phase and executives are not committing to a launch date, it will be up before the holidays, according to Estruth.


The test mailing schedule is gradual, with several mailings to about 250,000 prospects, spread out through the end of the year. Ten to 15 different "personal codes" are printed on mailings to enable Reflect.com to track direct mail creative executions as well as individual rented lists. The company already has tracked some response to the first wave, in collaboration with Rapp Collins and Critical Mass, Calgary, Alberta, Reflect.com's Internet agency. Rapp, which recently acquired 50 percent of Critical Mass, will work closely with its executives on back-end analysis.


"The initial response has far exceeded any expectations we had," Estruth said. "The beauty of combining direct mail and the Internet is that you know overnight."


A print campaign, also designed to drive traffic by providing the Web site address, launches in the November and December issues of consumer magazines, including Glamour, Martha Stewart Living, People and Vogue.


Once the site is fully operational, a more robust direct mail program will roll out next year.


"In order of magnitude, it'll be much larger," said Estruth, who is a big believer in the power of direct marketing. "Direct mail is the natural medium to establish an out-of-the-gate relationship with a single individual."


One elaborate mailing package slated for the future will be a "lab kit," which involves physical interaction, including peel-off stickers the consumer can apply to her face to determine if she has oily or dry skin. In addition, a print campaign slated for January will expand to appeal to more ethnically diverse consumers.

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