Simply the best and worst job I ever had. It was the best because I was asked to do extraordinary things that I NEVER thought I'd be doing. And the worst because it almost killed me. My wife said to me after about six months on the job, "Well you've finally found the job that not even you can do." She was almost right. But I was advantaged because
I worked for Andrea Jung during my entire tenure there until I left to join Saks. In my five-plus years I Iead a complete redesign of the US sales brochure; launched a new logo in 65 markets globally; launched three major repositioning brand campaigns including the seminal "Just Another Avon Lady"; opened the Avon Centre & Spa at Trump Tower; headed up the company's physical presence at the Atlanta Olympic Games; commissioned a life-size bronze sculpture, "The Olympic Woman" by my friend Greg Wyatt, Sculptor-in-residence at St. John The Divine Cathedral in New York that was life modeled after five Gold Medal Winners including Jackie Joyner-Kersee; served as ad-hoc design editor for the company's move from the Grace building on 57th Street to two new locations on Sixth Avenue approving all furniture, furnishings, fabrics and architectural details while building their first corporate art collection of 116 images based on women photographers from turn-of-the-century to current day that hung throughout the public spaces at both locations. And then there was the new challenge of developing a global brand image division generating agency-quality image and design assets distributed via a unique asset management system for all of Avon's largest brands. I was incredibly lucky to find some wildly talented and energetic people to
make this all happen of course. I have not experienced anything like Avon since.
Global Fragrance Launch: "Women of Earth"
Global Skincare Execution: "ANEW"
Global Color Launch: "Millennium"
The Avon Centre Spa & Store at Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in New York was a seminal moment for the Company. Never had it consciously invested in a "bricks & mortar" realization of the brand. In fact it was discouraged with impunity should a Representative "set up shop" on her own. The spirit of the brand was the "person-to-person" engagement of Representative and Customer. But times had changed and Andrea Jung believed that the Company needed to show the world that Avon was not what you thought it was. This was, in her words, "a living billboard" that said, 'we are not your grandmother's Avon.' It was spectacular. I brought in colossal interior designer Barbara Barry who with architect James Harb created a space like no other. Original artwork by photographer Sandi Fellman and custom finishes and furnishings filled the two floors of the Spa and small ground level store with a sense of calm, authenticity and undeniable brand leadership.
The Olympic Woman statue was created for the opening of the '96 Olympic Games in Atlanta of which Avon was a sponsor. My talented team created all the on-site Avon spaces: the store; the Avon Representative Guest Centre; the "Olympic Woman" installation of the statue; unique outposts throughout Atlanta and The Olympic Village. An unforgettable lesson in patience and diplomacy with regard to the Olympic Committee and a real stretch to take the brand from one-dimension to three while making it warm, accessible and more relevant and modern. A tour de force by all.
Avon's first corporate art collection came about when I discovered a random line in a budget for the two new office locations simply titled "art". My immediate concern was that someone would simply buy a bunch of framed Monet posters or "sofa" paintings and that would be that. I made a proposal to spend the money on photography created by women on the subject of beauty. It was approved. Then with the help of photographer and curator Sandi Fellman we quickly (in two months) collected 116 images from both established and new photographers from turn-of-the-century to current day. Berenice Abbot, Shelia Metzner, Deborah Turbeville, Mary Ellen Marks and other talented artists made the collection uniquely powerful through its simple focus on beauty through women's eyes. The International Center of Photography immediately gave the collection a show at their gallery. Afterwards all 116 pieces came to rest in the public spaces of both new Avon sites.
An ad for the show at ICP in Art in America. The two images above and next to The Olympic Woman article feature in situ Lynn Davis's "Iceberg #2" and Sandy Skoglund's "The Green House." Directly above works by: Sarah Charlesworth, Meridel Rubenstein, Susan Derges, Cindy Sherman and Imogen Cunningham. All images copywrited individually by the artist.
Examples of packaging created for Avon Products, The Avon Centre Spa & Store and the 125th Anniversary of Avon.
In 1994 I was lucky enough to work on Avon's sponsorship of The OLYMPIC GAMES in Atlanta, GA. I worked on product development with the merchandising group as well as designing Avon's on-site store--a first. Also designed and executed the company's on-site "retreat" for Avon associates, guests, vendors and Representatives. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity. This is one of the spots we did promoting that sponsorship featuring the legendary Jackie Joyner-Kersey. Shot on location in Carmel, CA Ms. Joyner-Kersee was a delight to work with. She even posed for the legs that sculptor Greg Wyatt incorporated into the life-size OLYMPIC WOMAN sculpture noted above. This spot never gets old.
The image at left was from a magazine I shot with Sandi Fellman in New York. It featured Aileen Riggin Soule who was at the time the oldest living gold medalist in diving. The copy read: "Guess which one is the Olympic Gold Medalist." Eileen lived on to reach her 96th birthday before taking one last dive in 2002.
Global Spotsdesigned to have unique VO added in market.
Russ Hardin© 2019