The deal, for an undisclosed sum, gets P&G out of the gender-neutral segment of the $2.4 billion antiperspirant and deodorant category, which has seen steady share losses in recent years amid the entry of Unilever's female-oriented Dove and male-oriented Axe.
Sure sales fell 8% to $37.8 million in the 52 weeks ended July 16, according to Information Resources Inc., but brand sales likely are closer to $70 million including unmeasured outlets such as Wal-Mart Stores.
Innovative Brands, backed by the Phoenix-based private-equity firm Najafi Cos., bought P&G's Pert in July. And P&G earlier this year also sold Gillette Co.'s Right Guard, Dry Idea and Soft & Dri brands to Henkel as part of an agreement with the Federal Trade Commission as part of its acquisition of Gillette.
At a similar multiple to sales of the Gillette brands, Sure would have commanded close to $100 million, but because it went to a private-equity buyer rather than one of the other major branded competitors in the category, P&G likely received less.
WPP Group's Grey Global Group, New York, last handled advertising for Sure, but P&G hadn't put media support behind the brand since last year. The brand is best known for its "raise your hand if you're Sure" jingle, created by the now-defunct Wells Rich Greene in the 1980s before Grey won the account in 1989.
Sure is the No. 1 unscented antiperspirant, Innovative Brands CEO Joe Jacober said in a statement, adding that the brand "has higher awareness levels than several other leading brands in the category."
He said the company will "focus investments to increase awareness, create excitement and build successful marketing relationships" for Sure.