Is Jean-Victor Meyers worth it? That is the question investors in the cosmetic powerhouse L’Oreal must be asking. Just appointed to L’Oreal’s board he is the grandson of famous 89-year-old heiress Liliane Bettencourt, who after a protracted and public fight with her daughter, has stepped down from the board. The family that started the firm is still calling the shots and his grandmother’s mantle has been passed to her grandson, 25 year old Jean Victor.
Stepping onto the fourteen-member board, his ascension is unlikely to create immediate rifts given that his family, despite bitter wrangling, often end up voting en bloc. Described as “sheltered and publicity shy”, the NYTimes described the newest and youngest board member of a firm with over 20 billion euros in revenues, as having “a taste for fashion but little expertise in business.”
For the moment the media claims his start up men’s label, Exemplaire, selling leather goods and cashmere sweaters, is his greater interest. One long-term investor was quoted as saying what others were probably thinking, “he’s only 25 years old, he is inexperienced and he seems to lack maturity.” Jean Victor hasn’t given interviews but has confirmed he will bring “energy and enthusiasm” to L’Oreal.
The PR Verdict: “B” for Jean-Victor and his rich granny. Hard to give a higher grade for saying nothing. For the moment it really is best to say rien. Energy and enthusiasm will suffice.
PR Takeaway: When you have nothing to say, then stick to saying nothing and avoid holding yourself hostage to a comment later down the line. His appointment was inevitably going to invite detractors and critics. Given ongoing market speculation about Nestle and its possible interest in L’Oreal, he could end up playing an important role in later board manoeuvres. Being the young ingénue, regarded as the blank slate without a view, is probably the best place to be for the moment. Yes maybe he is worth it.
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What’s your PR Verdict?