Noxzema Account Awarded to Wieden, New York

Agency Beat Out Martin, GSD&M for Recently Acquired Alberto-Culver Brand

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BATAVIA, Ohio (AdAge.com) -- Alberto-Culver Co. has added a heavy-hitting new name to its agency roster, appointing Wieden & Kennedy, New York, agency of record for its recently acquired Noxzema brand.

Wieden's lesser-known East Coast outpost beat out a field that included Interpublic Group of Cos.' Martin Agency, Richmond, Va., and Omnicom Group's GSD&M, Austin, Tex.

Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore., has cut its teeth in personal-care and beauty advertising working since 2006 for Procter & Gamble Co., which sold Noxzema to Alberto-Culver in October. The Portland office handles Old Spice and Graham Webb salon beauty products for P&G and worked on a project basis for Escada fragrance before Grey Global Group became agency of record for that brand earlier this year.

Unlikely to conflict with P&G
Given that there is little or no direct competitive overlap between Noxzema and Wieden's P&G brands, and the Noxzema account is being handled in the New York office, the assignment appears unlikely to run afoul of P&G's conflict rules. A P&G spokeswoman couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

"It was a strong race between a number of strategic and innovative agencies, who all showed a tremendous amount of excitement for the Noxzema business," an Alberto-Culver spokeswoman said in an e-mail statement. "Wieden & Kennedy [was] selected based on their demonstration of strong capabilities strategically and creatively as well as their spirit of partnership. We are especially excited by the quality of talent that is being applied to the business and look forward to a strong partnership to relaunch the iconic Noxzema brand."

Work will begin on the account immediately after the holidays with plans for a new campaign to break during the second half of 2009, she said.

Spending as much as a year's sales
Spending wasn't disclosed, but one person familiar with the company said Alberto-Culver may spend as much as one year's sales on marketing behind an initial push. Noxzema had $39.9 million in sales across numerous categories for the 52 weeks ended June 15 before the brand's divestiture by Procter & Gamble Co., according to Information Resources Inc. But U.S. retail sales likely reach closer to $60 million in all channels, not counting other countries.

Noxzema received only $2 million in measured-media support last year and a total of $69.6 million the previous five years under P&G, according to TNS Media Intelligence. Publicis Groupe's Leo Burnett, Chicago, handled Noxzema for years under P&G.

Alberto-Culver acquired worldwide rights and trademarks for Noxzema from P&G, but P&G licenses them back in portions of Western Europe to operate its existing Noxzema shave-care, antiperspirant/deodorant, body-wash and body-soap businesses.

'Unattended to for too long'
In a November interview, Gina Boswell, Alberto-Culver's president-global brands, said, "Obviously [Noxzema's] been unattended to for too long. ... We're really excited about restoring it to its glory and beyond."

"We wish the Alberto-Culver team well," a spokesman for GSD&M said. Martin and Wieden couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

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Contributing: Rupal Parekh