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After challenging Grey Advertising to come up with breakthrough work, Procter & Gamble Co.'s Cover Girl today begins airing a two-prong campaign inspired by Nike.

Senior VP-Group Creative Director Alice Ericcson and VP-Group Creative Director Mark Fina were the winning team in the New York agency's internal shoot-out. Their mission from P&G cosmetics and fragrance VP-General Manager Marc Pritchard: Produce a campaign that, like Nike's, uses both total brand and individual product advertising, and that, within the confines of P&G's parameters, still manages to stand out from the rest of the beauty pack.


"Marc is always saying he wants a Nike approach. This is not cookie cutter advertising anymore," Ms. Ericcson said.

There will be at least 10 commercials from the Grey team, including a minimum of two 30-second spots that use a mix of models talking about both being cover girls and the overall Cover Girl brand.

The rest of the spots are product specific, focusing on such Cover Girl items as new Marathon lipstick. Voice-overs for some of the ads were done by Dana Reeve, actress and wife of Christopher Reeve.

While Mr. Pritchard would not disclose spending, he said, "We will be at a leadership level this year right up there with the brands that spend the most."

In recent years, according to Competitive Media Reporting, Cover Girl has spent more than $60 million on advertising. This year, rival Maybelline has upped the ante with a $70 million budget (AA, Feb. 24).

The spots use established Cover Girl models Niki Taylor, Tyra Banks and Rachel Hunter, plus newly signed talent Lucy Gordon, Jua Perez, Christina The, Sarah Thomas and Carrie Tivador. All will be added to an updated Cover Girl Internet site ( at the end of March.

The new members of Cover Girl's talent pool range in age from 13 to 18 and span a variety of ethnic and international backgrounds.


Their youth signals the brand's return to its historical equites, including a younger target audience after trying to reach a more sophisticated consumer in the first part of this decade.

That was a gambit that did not pay off. Cover Girl as recently as a couple of years ago was the leading brand in both dollar and unit volume. Today, Revlon tops it in dollars with a 21.1% share of the $2.4 billion mass-market business vs. 20.6% for Cover Girl, according to Information Resources Inc.

And while Cover Girl still has a wide lead in unit share-21.6% vs. Revlon's 13.1%-it has lost more than a point while Revlon gained.

"Cover Girl has always been the brand that appeals to a younger group," Mr. Pritchard said, "and we recognize it's critical we continue to own that group."

But Cover Girl no longer has the near monopoly on younger women that it once enjoyed. There is a lot more competition for that group today than there was in the 1970s and '80s, he acknowledged.

Among the challengers are Sassaby's Jane cosmetics and Del Laboratories' Natural Glow, which is being renamed Naturistics.


Jane has been widely credited within the beauty industry for recognizing the importance of the element of fun in selling cosmetics to these consumers. And fun is what Ms. Ericsson said Cover Girl has also rediscovered.

"Cosmetics shouldn't be serious or difficult," she said, noting the campaign resurrects the use of a Cover Girl jingle as well as the magazine cover look for print ads. The jingle is wrapped around the theme line "Easy, breezy, beautiful Cover Girl."

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