Direct Response: 'Angel' bedeviled by lock shock: NuHair

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Former "Charlie's Angel" Kate Jackson is back, this time pitching a cure for tress stress in a $10 million direct-response TV campaign for hair-restorer NuHair.

NuHair's manufacturer, Biotech Corp., said it was attracted to the medium's cost-efficiency and flexibility in choosing to run the yearlong effort that begins June 3 from Inter/Media Advertising, Encinco, Calif.

"From a dollars-and-sense standpoint, we felt we couldn't go out and make a lot of noise in TV without doing it on a direct-response basis," said Mark Shuster, chief marketing officer at Biotech. "Unlike other media where you wonder if it works, this has instant results."

The 60- and 120-second spots feature Ms. Jackson, who claims using NuHair made her hair-abused and damaged by years of hot lights and styling for the cameras-fuller and thicker. The ads will air on network TV, syndicated programs and national cable channels such as Court TV, Lifetime and USA. They also include testimonials from other NuHair users.

Although NuHair will be sold directly via an 800-number showcased in the commercial, the primary aim of the campaign is to drive retail sales. NuHair has been available at independent and national drug stores such as CVS, Eckerd and Walgreen's for about a year.

"For every one product sold on TV, four to five are sold at retail," said Elissa Myers, president-CEO of the Electronic Retailing Association. Direct-response TV is attractive to marketers, she said, because it builds brand awareness in "a self-funding way because the cost of the space you're buying on TV is being recouped by direct sales."

right time

With national distribution complete, Biotech thought the time was right to focus on brand-building. "We have not generated the awareness and the continuity of purchase to really break out and grow the brand to the extent that we would like," Mr. Shuster said. "We felt there was an urgency to go and make a name for ourselves."

NuHair-with only 1% share of the $75 million hair-growth product category for the year ending April 21, 2002, according to Information Resources, Inc.-trails leader Rogaine, with 62.5%, and private-label products, with 35.3%.

"We're going to be evaluated on [whether] we're able to create brand awareness and drive retail," said Robert Yallen, president of Inter/Media.

NuHair-sold in tablet and topical forms for a suggested price of $29.99-is available for men and women, although the ad campaign targets the 30 million women suffering from hair loss or thinning, according to Mr. Shuster. "There really aren't a lot of [companies] that have decided to talk to the female customer," he said. "Women who have thinning hair find it very embarrassing."

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