Hair lines hike spending

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Fat is where it's at for hair early next year-as in fat budgets for big brands, thickening products for thin hair and heftier new-product assortments squeezing into retail shelf space several sizes too small.

Procter & Gamble Co.'s Pantene, along with this year's new brands, Unilever's Dove and L'Oreal's Garnier Fructis, each will spend more than $100 million on marketing support next year, according to retail executives and others close to the companies.

New-product activity won't be as intense as early 2003, retailers said. But marketing support behind each contestant's key brands may be as heavy or heavier. Unilever and Garnier both plan in 2004 to match year-one marketing levels behind Dove and Fructis. Products from all the marketers ship in January, with TV and print ads expected to break in February or March.

brilliant brunette

In addition to launches by the big three, Kao Corp.'s John Frieda looks to play off success of its Sheer Blonde brand by launching Brilliant Brunette in January. The brand will be backed by what Andrew Jergens Co. VP-Marketing and Sales Brad Kirk describes as Frieda's biggest launch budget ever, led by TV and print, the first work for Jergens by new agency Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners, New York.

Unilever said Dove Foam Conditioners for regular and color-treated hair will be a category first, applying a foaming concept already popular with hand soap brands to conditioners for women with fine or thinning hair. The mousse-like foam with the brand's trademark "weightless moisturizers" sinks in, spreads out and washes away better than regular conditioners, according to Unilever. At the same time, P&G will launch Pantene Full & Thick, a five-item lineup that promises to make hair 35% thicker, a spokeswoman said.

Both the Dove and Pantene products target 70% of women the companies said have fine or thinning hair. Both will get a full range of ad support, including TV and print. WPP Group's Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, Chicago, handles Dove. Grey Global Group's Grey Worldwide, New York, handles Pantene.

Besides expanding Fructis into styling aids, Garnier is also looking to shore up its declining hair-color business with Garnier 100% Color, featuring "pure colorants and micro minerals" in red packaging reminiscent of sibling L'Oreal's Couleur Experte, also launched in early 2003. Publicis Groupe's Publicis Worldwide, New York, handles the brand, which will get a $70 million launch.

battle of the brands

Dove has inched ahead recently in a close-fought battle of the shampoo and conditioner brands, with sales of $61 million to $52.6 million for Fructis through Oct. 5, according to Information Resources Inc. Under pressure from both, P&G has seen shares decline 4.6 percentage points in shampoo and 5.8 points in conditioner in the past 12 weeks compared to the year-ago period, according to figures from VNU's ACNielsen Corp. reported by Banc of America Securities.

Under new pressure from Fructis, Henkel looks to rescue its flagging Dep styling brand with a restage that includes eight new products, including lightweight Sheer Gels, conditioning Cream Gels, and the latest in a growing array of challengers to Frieda's Frizz Ease. Dep will get a print campaign and yet-undisclosed sports sponsorship for three new Dep Sport styling products.

The new gels are lighter and less sticky than traditional gels, including a foaming version of the cream gels, said Diana Tram, Dep senior brand manager. The relaunch also includes new sleeker, more "shelf-efficient" bottles to help Dep hold ground in a more crowded segment.

Magazine ads from Omnicom Group's DDB Worldwide, Los Angeles, break in April, as does a tie-in with the National Basketball Association for the Dep Sport line, including sponsorship of and sampling through the NBA Jam Van and ads on NBA.com.

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