Procter & Gamble Co. in late June will launch Noxzema Skin Fitness, described by Brand Manager Greg Ott as "by far the most significant extension" of the line.
A campaign from Leo Burnett USA, Chicago, and sibling interactive agency Giant Step Interactive will back the introduction, to include TV, print and outdoor. P&G won't disclose the ad budget, but the company spent $13.6 million on the brand last year, according to Competitive Media Reporting.
Skin Fitness will get "one of the stronger launches for Noxzema," Mr. Ott said.
A pre-launch effort including TV spots and Web site banners broke last week to encourage sampling. They direct consumers to the Skin Fitness Web site (www.fitskin.com) without mentioning the product. Once there, consumers can ask to receive samples before Skin Fitness hits stores.
Noxzema has been showing its age lately. The brand has slipped as Andrew Jergens Co.'s Biore and Johnson & Johnson's Clean & Clear and Neutrogena brought out a rash of new products in the '90s which eroded Noxzema's franchise, said Suzanne Grayson, president of consultancy Grayson Associates.
The minty cream -- created in 1914 by a Baltimore pharmacist as Dr. Bunting's Sunburn Remedy -- is still the third-largest skin cleanser in the U.S.
According to Information Resources Inc. figures, Noxzema had a 9.3% share of the $625 million facial cleanser segment at the end of 1998. But while competitors increased sales at double-digit rates, Noxzema sales dropped by 3.8%.
Biore's share grew to 22.5% in 1998, its first full year in the U.S., on the strength of its groundbreaking Pore Perfect strips and cleansers. Biore entered the market just two years ago.
Even second-ranked Chesebrough-Pond's -- another institution in a jar -- boosted sales by 169.9% last year to capture 16.7% of the market with new products such as disposable makeup remover wipes.
Pond's also is fighting its age signs with Pond's Clear Solutions, launched in February.
THE BLUE-JAR BARRIER
Ms. Grayson noted P&G has been unable to extend the Noxzema franchise since it bought Noxell Corp. -- and sister cosmetics brand Cover Girl -- in 1989.
"The blue jar was the business. They've never been able to go beyond the blue jar," she said.
Although Noxzema's share has stayed flat, it has managed to hold onto its sales volume as the competition became more intense, said Nathan Estruth, skincare marketing director at P&G.
"Everyone in the skincare business knows there's a lot of activity and a lot of competitors. This [launch] is not as much a response to competition as a response to women's needs," he said.
Mr. Estruth said the target for Skin Fitness is active women of various ages, rather than any demographic group -- busy, fitness-oriented women who want easy