The Latest Beauty and Fragrance Ambassadors: Who'll Sell and Who'll Just Smell

Last Updated May 4, 2010 5:00 PM EDT

taylor swift covergirl adIt's been a good week for celebrity spokespeople getting in the beauty business. Mary J. Blige, Taylor Swift, Diane Kruger, and Penelope Cruz have all inked deals to be the "faces" on fragrances and cosmetics from megabrands such as Lancôme and Cover Girl. But who's got the most potential to cash in? Read on.

SELL: Mary J. Blige -â€" "My Life" Perfume

Mary J. Blige is doing it her way. Rather than follow the likes of Beyonce over to Coty, the "Queen of Hip-Hop Soul," who's pumped out multi-platinum albums since her debut in 1992, isn't forsaking her ambassador status for the Carol's Daughter line. Working with the Brooklyn-based company, she'll launch My Life by Mary J. Blige, a juice named in honor of the Grammy winner's second album and a symbol of her remarkable transformation from abuse and addiction to philanthropic megastar.

But you won't find Blige's bottles on store shelves. Instead, the fragrance is set to sell exclusively through the Home Shopping Network (HSNI) beginning July 31. It's a calculated moved based on the sheer size of the multi-channel retailer's audience (over 90 million!), Carol's Daughter's previous product hits on HSN (think 3000 units of bath salts in 15 minutes), and the fact that HSN is filming a "documentary" of Blige's life â€" inspiring vignettes that will appear along with the HSN sales pitch. Sounds like solid gold. Even WWD reported that industry sources predicted $5 million to $7 million in sales on the first day alone.

SMELL: Diane Kruger -â€" "Beauty" Perfume

Diane Kruger will be the latest in a long line of models and actresses to represent a Calvin Klein fragrance. The new scent, called Beauty, is scheduled to debut this fall. Yet other than the fact that she's clearly lovely, it's a mystery why Kruger was plucked from among any number of more recognizable stars to represent the brand. Perhaps because Calvin Klein fragrances make their home under Coty's $4 billion umbrella, and boast the status of being the largest and best-selling brand in its portfolio, execs are unconcerned who the face belongs to -- as long as it's a "beauty." Certainly Kruger's recent turn in Quentin Tarantino's Nazi flick Inglorious Basterds isn't going to help sales.

SELL: Taylor Swift -â€" CoverGirl cosmetics

At the ripe old age of 20, Taylor Swift -- crossover darling of country and pop -- is the youngest songstress to snag a Country Music Award for Artist of the Year and sell over 13 million albums to boot. Now she's adding CoverGirl to her impressive accomplishments, representing a new line of luxury cosmetics hitting stores in January 2011. It's a coup for Swift who'll no doubt become a household name as she joins the ranks of megawatt celebrities such as Drew Barrymore and Ellen Degeneres whose faces have graced thousands of endcaps in drug and discount retail chains such as Target (TGT), Walmart (WMT) and Walgreens (WAG).

But it's a sweet deal for CoverGirl's parent company Procter & Gamble (PG) no doubt looking for a boost as its beauty division continues to post modest gains -â€" four percent volume growth for its fiscal third quarter. The squeaky clean Swift has major mass market appeal for both her fairy princess looks as well as her angsty, relatable songs of love. Ka-ching.

SMELL: Penelope Cruz â€" Trésor Perfume

There's a major changing of the celebrity guard over at L'Oréal. Penelope Cruz is picking up the mantle of the Lancôme division's Trésor fragrance from British actress Kate Winslet after her three year run. Cruz previously appeared in ads for the company's L'Oréal Paris brand hawking everything from mascara to lipstick.

You have to wonder about the management strategy behind this shift. With Cruz as featured face for so many products, L'Oréal's consumer products division's (which includes L'Oréal Paris) saw sales growth of just 7 percent for the first quarter. Contrast that to luxury's (including Lancôme) more robust double digit growth and I'm scratching my head. Maybe execs are counting on acclaimed photographer Mario Testino to cast both the fragrance and the lovely Spaniard in such a hallowed light women will be hurrying to buy it.

Image via CoverGirl