P&G alters image in major push to rebuild Pantene

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Procter & Gamble Co. has long used pro-vitamins as a distinctive selling point for its Pantene hair-care line. A new ad campaign that debuts today breaks away from the science and highlights more imagery.

P&G spends an estimated $140 million annually on its market-leading brand, and this effort is expected to receive a third of that budget.

In addition, P&G is embarking on one of its biggest sampling efforts, in which millions of Pantene Ultra-V samples will be bagged with newspapers for home delivery at the end of August.

FRESH APPROACH

The new creative features fruits, flowers and other objects to subliminally represent a refreshing and healthy lifestyle. It also tries to incorporate a more diverse group of models, showcasing a potpourri of women with dissimilar hair types.

"Rapunzel was the ever-present theme" in past Pantene advertising, said Grey Exec VP-Account Manager Nancy Bachrach. "There was lots of long blond hair."

HIRSUTE APPEAL

The new strategy, said Thomas Puckett, Grey's VP-international creative director, could be summed up in six words: "Love your hair, not someone else's."

The campaign's theme line is expressed in three: "Love your hair."

The broadcast TV schedule includes three 30-second spots and 10 :15s. Several of the :15s promote a fade-resistant line for colored hair being introduced this month.

Print ads break in August magazines, and include spreads featuring best-tressed women on one side and a health-related item such as a jump rope or a large glass of sparkling ice water on the other.

The campaign follows a six-month effort for the line that broke in February, when Pantene was repositioned as Ultra-V, from Pantene Pro-V.

Pantene is the top-selling shampoo brand, with a 14% share of the $1.69 billion market. But its sales have been flat, while No. 2-ranked Herbal Essences from Clairol and newcomers such as Clairol Daily Defense and Unilever's Thermasilk continue to gain share.

Pantene sales were up only 0.9% for the 52 weeks ended March 28, according to Information Resources Inc. By comparison, Herbal Essences was up 25.7%, and teh year-old Daily Defense and Thermasilk were up 185.3% and 904.9%, respectively.

The idea for the new campaign evolved through extensive focus groups in the U.S., Europe and Asia. A number of the participants even allowed Grey staffers to videotape them in the shower (they wore bathing suits).

Ms. Bachrach said the shower scenes were used not only to get women's immediate reaction to the product but to find out what other items lined their shower caddy.

Contributing: Mercedes M. Cardona

Copyright July 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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