ROGERS, Ark. (AdAge.com) -- Procter & Gamble Co. is discontinuing Max Factor in the U.S., giving up on a long fight to save a storied brand that spent its last few years distributed primarily at Walmart.
P&G said in a statement today it will discontinue the brand in the U.S. effective in the first quarter of 2010 -- though under P&G policy, the brand may be available on closeout for months beyond that should its remaining retailers wish.
P&G will continue selling Max Factor in 70 other countries, including 20 where it's a No. 1 brand and in the U.K. and Russia, where it's the No. 2 brand, the company said.
"Max Factor is a strong, profitable brand and remains one of [P&G beauty's] key engines for global growth," Virginia Drosos, president of global female beauty for P&G, said in a statement. "P&G is fully committed to profitable growth and leadership -- both in the U.S. and globally."
The 100-year-old brand with a long tradition as the makeup of Hollywood makeup artists has been worn by the likes of Rita Hayworth and Marilyn Monroe. But it was discontinued from most stores three years ago, and many analysts didn't expect it to last as long as it has after that major distribution loss.
The move comes as Walmart has been reducing assortments in a number of categories as it aims to streamline its product offerings, though it's unclear if a decision by the giant retailer was the coup de grace for Max Factor.
Grey Global Group handles Max Factor in the U.S., where it got $35.4 million in measured-media support last year, according to TNS Media Intelligence, apparently in a final effort to save it.
The move comes as a blow to P&G, which also discontinued the Clarion and Olay cosmetics brands the past two decades. Yet it comes as P&G's remaining U.S. brand, CoverGirl, has been leading P&G cosmetics to possibly its strongest showing ever.
CoverGirl has been gaining extensive share on its once implacable rival L'Oreal for more than a year, making inroads in Maybelline's once dominant position in eye makeup and more recently accelerating growth in foundation and lipstick. Grey also handles CoverGirl.