Cloudbreak Wave Building Momentum

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Thomas Butkiewicz

Following a noted career that has included management and executive positions at LVMH, Prada, Lauder, Coty and Zirh/Shiseido, 20-year beauty veteran Thomas Butkiewicz is looking skyward.

His latest venture, The Cloudbreak Group—alongside a team of executives like Dennis Keogh, Duncan Bird and Jennifer Mullarkey—has already amassed two hit beauty licenses, the New York Yankees and Isaac Mizrahi, with more coming.

“Our ultimate goal is to have a portfolio of brands that don’t duplicate but complement our overall distribution strategy and balance our risk,” Butkiewicz said. “We focus on three pillars within Cloudbreak to give us an advantage and set us apart in the marketplace: creativity, multi-channel distribution and speed—to market and in reaction to the market.”  

In an exclusive interview at the company’s sprawling 5th Avenue offices, Butkiewicz spoke to the importance of possessing a varied brand portfolio—beyond mere traditional celebrity launches—that are sold in varying distribution channels. The Yankees fragrance is available at Yankees stadium, for instance, and Mizrahi made its exclusive debut on a QVC broadcast during Fashion’s Night Out. The fragrances are also available on their respective websites, nyyankeesfragrance.com and fabulous.isaacmizrahi.com.

Thus far, both are faring enormously well, Butkiewicz noted. Even before its launch, Mizrahi had clocked in over $100,000 in pre-orders, he said. And a Yankees PA in April at Macy’s Herald Square featuring Mariano Rivera and Curtis Granderson pushed more product than any other men’s fragrance PA ever.

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The Mizrahi bottle and packaging.

Of the success of the Yankees launch, Cloudbreak co-founder Duncan Bird said, “It was all about getting the right message and the right quality product in front of the right people.” The black-and-white ad campaign, which Cloudbreak conceived, aptly depicted the brand’s heritage with the tagline, “Past. Present. Forever.”

Additional ads will launch before year’s end, Bird said, with campaigns for the women’s scents, for holiday, and to commemorate the end of baseball season. There are also several special edition products and gift sets in the pipeline, he added.

Of the just-launched Mizrahi’s accomplishments, Cloudbreak’s senior vice president of marketing Dennis Keogh said, “the initial reception on QVC has been very positive, generating above average retail sales per minute.

“We are currently working to expand distribution in the spring beyond the brand’s exclusive launch on QVC and at Bloomingdale’s. We expect to be in about one thousand doors in the spring season.”

Also in the coming months, Cloudbreak is evaluating additional licenses (Butkiewicz declined to name names) that showcase innovative distribution strategies and fill white space in the fashion, sports and music industries, he said.

Additionally, Butkiewicz looks to integrate a different approach to brand partnerships in which the relationship is a joint venture as opposed to a traditional licensing agreement. “It brings more credibility to the product,” he said, “and the brand becomes more involved and invested in its’ shared success.

“It also allows for the intellectual property to be contained within the company, increasing value and avoiding being on borrowed time—which is intrinsic in a licensing agreement. Large fragrance manufacturers or public traded firms can rarely offer this type of opportunity, which can be far more lucrative to the brand,” he concluded.

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Images from the Yankees ad campaign. Experiential marketing trucks bolstered
the Yankees launch.
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