Dipitty-Doo at midlife: Hair gel swaps genders

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After more than 40 years as a female, Dipitty-Doo will become the first transsexual in the haircare aisle.

White Rain Co. is repositioning the line of hair styling aids -- best known for the glossy pomade in many 1960s beehives -- as a product for active young men. New products, repackaged and renamed Dipitty-Do Sport, will reach stores in November, including Ultimate Hold Sport Gel, Ultimate Hold Unscented Sport Gel and Ultimate Hold Spray Gel. Two new products, a lineup of Extreme Hold gels and Defining Wax, will be added in January.

"It's a sex change for the brand," said Maureen Gregory, VP-marketing for White Rain. The company was formed in April by Diamond Products Co. after it acquired the haircare brands of Gillette Co. -- names such as Adorn, The Dry Look, Mink Difference, Tame, Toni and White Rain -- and was launched with a revamped White Rain this summer.

The new Dipitty-Do Sport brand will be backed by an ad campaign featuring Denver Broncos quarterback Brian Griese as spokesman. The campaign includes print and radio, in-store and other promotions and a Web site (dipittydo.com) that will go online by yearend. White Rain plans to spend $25 million promoting White Rain and Dipitty-Do Sport in 2001, but Ms. Gregory would not break down spending by brand.


Ads, from Marquardt & Roche/Meditz & Hackett, Stamford, Conn., will break in March or April magazines. Creative and media plans are still under development, Ms. Gregory said, but she said creative likely would take a humorous turn and media will include general interest and sports titles such as ESPN the Magazine and Sports Illustrated. The effort also will include a sweepstakes promotion in the third quarter of 2001 that will give away a trip for four to Denver for dinner with Mr. Griese and a Broncos football game.

Beauty marketers are openly targeting men with grooming products -- such as hair color and skincare -- which are now more accepted thanks to changing gender roles and increased competition in the workplace (AA, April 17). Brands such as L'Oreal and Clairol have launched new hair color lines for men during the last year and Estee Lauder Cos.' Aramis this month launches Surface, a line of "self-improvement tools" -- i.e., makeup -- designed to disguise skin imperfections.

White Rain's market research found young men are interested in hair styling products for them, and focus groups responded well to the Dipitty-Do Sport products and packaging. Although the brand is more than 40 years old, most of the 13-to-35-year-old target demographic was not familiar with the brand, so the sex change was no problem.

"We can be the first to the market with this positioning to target active guys," Ms. Gregory said. "Among younger consumers, Dipitty-Do is a clean slate."

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