NORELCO REVIVES CAMPAIGN THAT SPARKED SUIT: ELECTRIC SHAVER MARKETER BUDGETS $17 MIL FOR ADS BLASTING WET RAZORS

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Philips Electronics North America's Norelco Consumer Products Co. unit this fall is extending an ad campaign that got it sued last year.

The new advertising is budgeted at more than $17 million in fourth-quarter spending and includes a 30-second spot and three :15s breaking this week. The commercials from D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, New York, continue to use graphic visuals to associate the use of wet razors with pain, though they no longer make specific claims regarding irritation.

"The ads are fully in compliance with what the judge ordered in December," said Rich Sorota, VP-marketing for Norelco, referring to both the new ads and the 1996 ads that have continued to run.

GILLETTE SUED NORELCO

In October 1996, Gillette Co. filed suit in U.S. District Court, charging Norelco's ads for its Reflex Action razor were intended to harm the reputation of Gillette and its wet-shaving products. In December, the District Court judge issued an injunction to stop Norelco from using TV, radio and print ads that made unqualified claims of "less irritation."

Norelco was allowed to continue using visuals that showed razor blades spitting fire or baring sharp teeth.

Still seeking to have the ads pulled, Gillette is continuing the suit; the trial date has been set for Oct. 4, 1998, according to a spokesman for the company.

"We are still convinced that Norelco's [1996] ads are disparaging and misleading regarding wet-shaving products," the spokesman said. "When you disparage wet-shaving, you are disparaging Gillette because we are the clear leader in the industry."

Mr. Sorota said his company's ads "are not designed to target a specific brand or product."

In a new spot titled "Face Protection," a hockey goalie has pucks flying by his face mask; the spot ends with the puck turning into a razor blade and bouncing off the mask. A :15 called "Match Head" uses the image of a face made out of matches, which ignite at the beard line. The tagline: "Anything closer could be too close for comfort."

Norelco also is tying in with the National Hockey League, tagging itself in some hockey spots as official razor of the NHL.

TARGETING 18-34 AGE GROUP

The comparisons to wet-shaving products, rather than other electric shavers, and the NHL tie-in are part of Norelco's continuing effort to go after 18-to-34-year-olds.

"You've got to fish where the fish are, and wet razors have great penetration among 18-to-34-year-olds," said Tony Scopellito, senior VP-management supervisor at DMB&B. "We're trying to change the perception of electric razors as old-fashioned."

Norelco already is No. 1 in the electric shaver market, with a 50%-plus share.

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