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Cosmair's Maybelline is venturing into the $500 million-plus suncare market this year with a sun protection brand called Ombrelle, billed as the next generation in advanced UV protection.

Cosmair picked up Ombrelle late last year when parent L'Oreal bought Dermtek Pharmaceuticals, Dorval, Canada. In that country, Ombrelle is the No. 2 suncare brand and leading sun protection brand but receives no media support.

Sold through drugstores, Ombrelle relies on dermatologist recommendations to reach consumers and carries the Canadian Dermatology Association's Seal of Approval.


In the U.S., Ombrelle will use dermatologist referrals and sampling through their offices; advertising is also planned. While the ad budget has not yet been disclosed, industry estimates place spending between $8 million to $12 million, based on competitive outlays by category leader Schering-Plough Corp.

No agency has been announced though Maybelline is handled by Gotham, New York.

At press time, L'Oreal executives could not be reached for comment. But Cosmair Chairman Guy Peyrelongue noted shortly after the acquisition "this brand . . . [gives] us an opportunity to participate in the large and growing suncare market with sales in excess of $500 million."

The move comes as Schering expands its line with three new lines: Coppertone Shade UVA Guard Sunblock Lotion with Parsol 1789 in SPF 30; Coppertone Sport Ultra Sweatproof Dry Lotion SPF 48; and Coppertone Kids Colorblock Disappearing Colored Sunblock Lotion, a blue formula in SPF 30 and SPF 40. Messner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmetterer/Euro RSCG, New York, handles.


Schering-Plough has a 31.8% share of the suncare market and sales of $132.6 million, according to Information Resources Inc. At No. 2 is Playtex Family Products Group with a 17.4% share, with Banana Boat, BioSun and Tan Express. Playtex announced earlier this month that sales rose 30.5% in 1997 to $95.7 million, making it one of the fastest-growing players in the suncare market.

In addition to Ombrelle, another relatively new player in the U.S. market this year will be Sea & Ski. The trademark, previously owned by Danskin, was largely inactive but will be reintroduced by the recently formed Sea & Ski Corp. Print and radio ads with the theme "The name you trust in suncare" were created by Adrian, Santa Barbara, Calif.

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