Just for Men's new ad formula: Take quarterback, add color

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Combe Inc. will score this month with a new ad campaign for its Just for Men hair color and a two-time Super Bowl quarterback will put his head on the line as celebrity spokesman for the effort.

Ads, starring former Washington Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann, will break in August men's lifestyle and sports magazines including Men's Health, Playboy and Sports Illustrated. Mr. Theismann, a three-time Super Bowl starter who is now a TV sportscaster and motivational speaker, will kick off the campaign by coloring his hair at a July 25 promotional event in New York.

"Joe Theismann is a guy who's at the top of his game . . . He's a real guy, and a guy who's aspirational for men," said Dominic DeMain, senior VP-marketing.

Combe also broke TV ads on June 26 for Just for Men which did not feature Mr. Theismann, but he may appear in TV spots later this year.

JUST FOR MEN

The ads, created in-house, target men 35 to 54 years old, and play up Just for Men's positioning as a product made especially for men. DeMain said Combe's in-house research found men prefer to use a product created for them, rather than a men's extension of a women's brand.

Men's hair coloring now makes up the fastest-growing segment in the $1.5 billion U.S. hair color market. According to ACNielsen Corp. figures, sales of men's products grew more than 40% since 1996, reaching $134.7 million in the 52 weeks ended June 17.

In April, L'Oreal launched Casting ColorSpa for Men, a male version of its semi-permanent ColorSpa line, backed by print ads in men's health and fitness magazines. ColorSpa for Men followed last year's launch of a group of 10 male-targeted shades under the Feria brand, which were tagged "Dyes for guys," in print ads.

Clairol also launched a men's line last year, Natural Instincts for Men, its second entry into men's hair color after its 5-year-old Men's Choice brand. Revlon entered the men's hair color market last year, with ColorStay Naturals for Men.

GRECIAN FORMULA

Combe -- which also markets Grecian Formula hair color, Lanacane anti-itch cream and Odor Eaters shoe insoles -- itself has steadily increased its advertising budget for its hair color brands and added new products to mine the men's market. According to Competitive Media Reporting, Combe's spending on its hair color brands rose to $29.1 million in 1999 from $22.7 million in 1996, and Mr. DeMain said spending will continue to increase.

"We've been marketing to the baby boomers for 40 years," said Mr. DeMain. "We recognize this generation of men is different than their fathers."

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