Bic breaks $20 mil Softwin campaign

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Bic Corp. breaks the first leg of a global ad campaign for its Bic Softwin disposable razors this week, supported by a $20 million budget in the U.S.

The effort for Bic Corp., the U.S. arm of French company Societe Bic, was created by several TBWA Worldwide offices. The campaign includes TV spots in which unsuspecting men mysteriously lose their beards after passing near a Softwin outdoor ad.

The TV spots' tag, "It's all you need," is meant to reinforce the product's positioning as the only disposable razor with three premium features, said Jackie End, global creative director on the account at TBWA/Chiat/Day, New York.

The Softwin razors, which reached stores in March, feature a rubber handle for a better grip, a pivoting head with improved twin blades and two lubricating strips with a combination of moisturizers. They are available in three models: a model with moisturizers, a sensitive-skin model lubricated with aloe and vitamin E, and a women's model with lanolin and vitamin E strips.

ALL THE BEST FEATURES

"What we're offering here is a razor that has the best of all the best features," said Terry Koch-Bostic, global brand manager for Bic. The line is targeted at men who already use disposables and designed to get them to trade up to the premium product. But it also tested well among users of non-disposable razors, said Ms. Koch-Bostic.

Over the last five years, consumers have increased their expectations of shaver features, she noted. So Bic used consumer research to determine which features consumers wanted most, then put them together in the Softwin, she said.

Bic already has several sensitive-skin models, a twin-blade line called Twin Select, and the Bic Plus, which has two lubricating strips. But no previous model combined all the key features.

The marketer's $20 million U.S. budget is the most Bic has spent on a product launch, said Ms. Koch-Bostic. Although the amount isn't yet set, a substantial media buy will support the campaign in overseas markets during 2000 and 2001, she added. After the ads break in the U.S. and Italy this week, they will roll out to France this summer and Australia by yearend.

The U.S. media outlay is comparable to the budget Bic put behind its first entry into the U.S. shaving business 24 years ago, said Ms. Koch-Bostic.

SCHICK GAINING GROUND

Bic is second to Gillette Co. in the $531.2 million disposable razor market, but each recently has lost market share as Warner-Lambert Co.'s Schick brand has increased. Gillette -- led by its Good News brand -- had 52.4% of the market, compared to Bic's 20.8% and Schick's 17% for the 52 weeks ended March 18, according to J.P. Morgan Securities, New York. But Gillette dropped from a 52.7% share and Bic from 22.1% the previous year, while Schick's share rose from 15.7%.

Bic's TV campaign creative uses a version of guerrilla advertising. The spots, which broke on May 7 on the NBA playoffs, feature men getting a surprise shave from a nearby Bic print or outdoor ad. In one spot, soccer players in an airport people mover lose half their beards after passing an outdoor board. In another, a beachgoer finds half his facial hair missing after dozing with his face in a magazine.

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