NEW YORK – The cosmetics firm Avon will come calling on TV, recruiting sales representatives with its first-ever infomercial debuting this weekend.
After its initial appearance on the U.S. cable network Oxygen on Saturday morning, the half-hour commercial for troubled Avon Products Inc. will be shown repeatedly on Oxygen, Lifetime and USA.
Deborah Norville and financial guru Suze Orman are featured, but the infomercial is dominated by testimonials from women who sell Avon’s products. The company wants to increase its base of 500,000 sales representatives in the United States.
“We saw it as an opportunity because of the times we’re in,” said Geralyn Brieg, president of Avon North America.
Avon announced a restructuring with a freeze on salaries and hiring two months ago. The company sells more than three-quarters of its cosmetics overseas, where sales have been hurt by a stronger dollar.
The project is also an example of the growing acceptance of infomercials, once an advertising form reserved for cheesy products.
“We really wanted to explore how to do it in a quality way,” Brieg said, “and I think the image of infomercials as being something of a hard sell is really outdated.”
Brieg said the company was motivated to do something more on television after an appearance by its president on ABC’s “Good Morning America” last November. The TV appearance alone caused a large jump in the number of people calling to inquire about selling Avon products, she said.
She would not pinpoint a target on how many new sales representatives Avon hopes to gain with the infomercial.
“Recruiting is 50 per cent of what we focus on at Avon,” she said. “It’s the moral equivalent for a retailer of having more stores open.”