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ELIZABETH ARDEN SIGNS ON BRITNEY

By PAUL THARP
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March 13, 2004 -- Elizabeth Arden - a brand known for making graying women look great - is now aiming for teens by hiring Britney Spears to create a beauty line.

The pop princess is getting a multimillion-dollar deal to create her own fragrance and cosmetics - a move to capture teens as lifetime customers before they begin their aging process.

Some industry insiders call the plan risky because of Spears' image as an out-of-control brat, who on a boozy whim married her childhood pal and annulled it 55 hours later.

Elizabeth Arden in the past has favored the appeal of more graceful legends, such as Elizabeth Taylor, who created the White Diamonds perfume and Passion line for the company.

Elizabeth Arden's staunchly mature fragrance brands include Red Door, Halston and White Shoulders.

The company stunned the industry in 2002 when it hired actress Catherine Zeta-Jones to reach women in their 30s in a promotion for Red Door fragrances.

Marketing experts say teen customers identify closely with the antics of Spears, and it could be a plus for Elizabeth Arden in its effort to reach an ever younger audience.

Spears, 22, will develop and market her own line of fragrance, skin-care and color cosmetics in a multi-year contract said to be worth several millions annually.

The teen fragrance will be launched first in high-end department stores this fall.

Spears is a "talented, fashionable woman who appeals to a young and international consumer base," said Paul West, president of Elizabeth Arden.

Ken Harris of retail consultancy Cannondale Associates called the project "a very clear signal to other fragrance marketers that they're getting into the game in a big way. It's a bold statement."

But it would work only "if Britney Spears continues to release No. 1 hits, and if she is able to maintain a sense of composure."

"What Arden bought was the pop icon without any of the baggage," Harris added. Her most recent music release, "In The Zone," has sold more than 5 million copies.



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