CLAIROL PUTTING NEW SPIN ON NICE 'N EASY BRAND: NEW SPOKESWOMAN BEING SOUGHT AS $50 MIL RELAUNCH IS PREPARED

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Bristol-Myers Squibb's Clairol is relaunching Nice 'n Easy with $50 million in marketing support -- minus spokeswoman Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

Clairol is finalizing negotiations with another celebrity to replace Ms. Louis-Dreyfus, presenter for Nice 'n Easy since 1993 and co-star of NBC's "Seinfeld," according to industry executives.

WPP Group's Intuition Group, New York, is the agency.

Nice 'n Easy is Clairol's top-selling brand with an 11.5% share of the $1 billion hair coloring market, which is up nearly 6% for the 52 weeks ended Dec. 28, according to Information Resources Inc. But the brand has been passed by Cosmair's L'Oreal Preference, with a 14.9% share.

That has intensified the battle between the two leading hair color marketers, which together command almost 80% of category sales. Clairol has 45.1% of the category and Cosmair 33.9%, according to IRI.

HEALTHY EMPHASIS

In a step to boost Nice 'n Easy -- whose sales rose just 0.2% last year while Preference's actually declined by 1.2% -- Clairol has reformulated the brand to market it as "drip-free, rich conditioning color." The positioning is expected to revolve around the theme line "For color that's as healthy as it is beautiful."

Nice 'n Easy also is getting a new fragrance and packaging that features information about the reformulation to generate consumer trial.

In a category that has become intensely promotional following the entry of new brands, executives expect that Nice 'n Easy won't be the only major reformulation this year.

"In the next six months, there will be a lot of restages and repositionings," said one executive at a rival marketer.

Last year, Revlon introduced ColorStay hair coloring and Cosmair introduced Garnier Belle Color. Clairol's newest entry is Hydrience.

The ad account for Hydrience has been in review since last fall, when Bristol-Myers Squibb pulled $100 million in spending out of Wells BDDP, New York, because of conflicts with Procter & Gamble Co. products.

3 AGENCIES TO BE PICKED

The review is expected to be decided this week, as are reviews for Clairol's Infusium -- without an agency since Gotham, New York, resigned it after client Maybelline was bought by Cosmair -- and Redmond Products' Aussie, acquired by Bristol-Myers Squibb in December. Aussie had been handled by Webber Advertising, Minneapolis.

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