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Skin care sponsorship extends to males

By Simon Pitman , 23-May-2006

Lancome has taken the brave step of becoming one of the first major cosmetics companies to sponsor a leading male star to promote male skin care products.

Internationally renowned British-born actor Clive Owen has been chosen to put his face on ads for a range of products, including wrinkle cream, cleansing gel and smooth face scrub and will reportedly be paid $4m for the contract.

In a move that has been described as 'unusual', the deal sees a film star renowned for his macho image, promoting cosmetic products with the 'metrosexualized' tag that has come to mark a new era in male attitudes to personal care and grooming regimes.

Likewise, it also marks a distinct turn around in the course of sponsorship for the male personal care sector. Until now male stars have not gone further than sponsorship of fragrances, but now things look set to change.

"The company thinks he's fabulous, he's very manly looking," a Lancome spokesperson told The Mail on Sunday. "He'll be huge for the heterosexual market. He's getting a giant fee but the men's skincare market is exploding. Suddenly it's become OK for real men to care about how they look."

Sporting figures such as footballer David Beckham and tennis player Andy have successfully put their names to fragrances in the recent years, adding to a handful of male fragrance sponsorship deals.

But skin care has remained the domaine of nameless male models. Male stars have traditionally been hesitant to sponsor such products for fear that it might damage their image. Until now that is.

Owen's move might seem like a brave one, but it also reflects the changing attitude to male skin care and the fact that it is now very much a part of the male grooming process. In short this latest sponsorship deal seems to confirm that men are not so scared to embrace values that were once associated as more feminine.

Backing this up a recent Datamonitor survey has shown that 73 per cent of European and US men said that spending time in front of the mirror was 'important' or 'very important', compared to 72 per cent of women with the same response.

Given this level of vanity in men, it is not surprising that Datamonitor is predicting that the European and US male personal care market is set to rise from $31.5 billion in 2003, to reach $37.6 billion in 2008.

Likewise, the move to secure Owen as the face of Lancome's male skin care range also reflects a broadening of the boundaries for sponsorship of cosmetic and personal care products.

In the past few weeks L'Oreal has also named two leading female Hollywood stars aged over 60 - Jane Fonda and Diane Keaton - putting their faces to anti-aging cosmetic ranges. Likewise this decision reflects significant growth in the market for products aimed at older women.

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