LIG is also ditching its U.S. brands, which include Ramses and Sheik, in favor of the Durex brand, which will launch with a new ad campaign next month. The product range will shrink from 120 to 40 lines as the company aims to bring more cohesion to its brands worldwide.
McCann-Erickson previously had "preferred agency" status on Durex business around the world, but the arrival last November of Patrick Legrand to the newly created position of divisional managing director-family planning has led the London-based company to centralize its advertising in preparation for a more consistent brand image around the world.
The agency picks up several new markets, such as Durex's important European countries Italy and Spain, and it will receive additional business as LIG moves ahead with its aggressive international expansion plan.
LIG launched a joint venture in China in March of this year, it is currently rolling out through central and eastern Europe following its Russian debut last year, and it plans to make inroads into Latin America, where it has just secured a significant supply contract for unbranded condoms in Brazil with the aim of developing the market.
Durex's first global campaign is expected to launch next April and run alongside individual sub-brand advertising. "There will be an overriding creative platform [with the same brand values, quality image and signature] but different executions depending on the position of Durex and the development of the market," says Frenchborn Mr. Legrand. To that end, four "clusters" of markets at similar stages of development such as "developed," "emerging" and "transitional" - will be catered to with different advertising.
"I don't think we can be Gillette with one worldwide campaign," Mr. Legrand says. "We're not selling razors or baked beans, but condoms. Dealing with taboos and ignorance means you have to apply different strategies for the U.K. and China."
Supporting the advertising will be beefed up new-product development program, worth $13 million annually - designed to produce two innovative launches each year.
Avanti, made from a non-latex polyurethane to provide extra sensitivity, is the latest example due to roll out around the world, and with which LIG hopes to tempt lapsed users back to the category. Encouraging new users with innovative products is crucial: The global condom market is growing by just 2% a year.
In the U.S., LIG is aiming for the "strong No. 2" spot, behind Carter-Wallace's Trojan brand (with some 60% market share) but ahead of Ansell's LifeStyles, which it now trails with a 17% value share. The plan is for 25% to 30% of the market within two to three years.
Awareness of the Durex brand in the U.S. was just 1% in September 1996, the company claims, but rose to 28% by July 1997 following advertising that mentioned the name Durex alongside the more familiar product name, plus heavy sampling and PR activities.
Copyright August 1998, Crain Communications Inc.