GROOMING MARKETER TARGETS YOUNG BOYS

Cites $2 Billion 'Untapped' Market of 22 Million Children

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CINCINNATI (AdAge.com) -- A Cincinnati start-up company is launching the first line of personal care products aimed specifically at young boys, resurrecting and licensing a brand originally developed but never launched by Procter & Gamble Co.

OT, an 11-item line of sporty shampoos,

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styling aids, antiperspirant/deodorants and body washes in active-sounding scents such as "power rush" and "vertical blast," is initially rolling into Target stores nationally and the Meijer supercenter chain in the Midwest. The target is young teen boys and "tweens," the age bracket between boyhood and the teen years.

'Untapped market'
"This is a largely untapped market," said Karen Frank, a former P&G beauty care marketing director and CEO of OT OverTime, which is launching the brand. "It wasn't long ago that you didn't have men's brands [in some categories, such as shampoos]. I think this is the next logical place to go."

In-house print ads break in the April issue of Time Inc.'s Sports Illustrated for Kids and Sports Illustrated for Teens. The line also will be backed with direct mail aimed within a 10-mile radius of Target and Meijer stores and a publicity campaign aimed at moms featuring Kathy Peel, an author of books and columns on "family management."

Ms. Frank had helped develop OT as a consultant to P&G after leaving the company in 1998. After P&G decided not to launch OT as originally planned late last year in order to "concentrate on other priorities," she decided to license the brand and launch it herself in partnership with two other ex-Procter executives.

"I really felt like the time was right now to launch this brand," Ms. Frank said.

$100 million at stake
The 22 million boys in the target market spend, or have their parents spend on them, $100 million a year on grooming products, making for a $2 billion-plus market, said Ann McBrien, one of the co-founders of OT OverTime and a former vice president of sales at P&G.

Ms. Frank said research she conducted for P&G showed tween and teen boys "really do want their own brand."

Brands such as Unilever's Axe, aimed primarily at boys 18 and up, also have made inroads into high schools. But Ms. Frank said OT will be positioned and marketed for the upper end of its 9- to 18-year-old age range in order to develop aspirational appeal to younger members of its target group.

"I think it has potential," said Greg Livingston, executive vice president of WonderGroup, a Cincinnati-based agency that specializes in marketing to children. "They've found a niche that's untapped."

"They need to hit the target exactly right," said Peter Zollo, president of Teen Research Unlimted, a Northbrook, Ill., agency that specializes in teen market research. "I do think there's a sweet spot there where it could be relevant."

Motor oil bottles
He said the yellow-and-black-and-red packaging, which he likened to motor oil bottles, should appeal to boys.

"They've also got some fun, irreverent names," Mr. Zollo said, referring to products such as "pit defense" deodorant, which he believes will appeal to boys without committing the potentially fatal marketing faux pas of making the products look like they're only for boys.

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