P&G slits own throat with razor promotion

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In a bizarre marketing twist, Procter & Gamble is helping razor rival Schick attack Gillette, the company it now owns.

Honoring an agreement reached with Energizer Holdings before the Gillette buy was announced in January, P&G is putting its heavily touted Tremor teen buzz-marketing program to work for Schick, which is trying to thwart the critical launch of Gillette's six-bladed Fusion.

Gillette on Sept. 14 announced the $200 million, early 2006 launch of Fusion, its first new men's system in nearly eight years. Days later, Tremor began sending a mailing ostensibly about trends in skateboards and snowboards to males among the 250,000 teens in the program.

The mailing is sponsored by Schick and features coupons for free Schick Quattro razors.

Each Tremor panelist is getting 11 of the booklets with free-razor coupons-10 are intended for distribution to friends-totaling more than a million. That adds up to nearly $100 worth of free razors per panelist. Already, one panelist appears to have tried auctioning the coupons on eBay.

A P&G spokeswoman declined to comment. Schick executives did not return calls for comment.

The free-goods extravaganza is part of what has become a typical strategy for both major razor players in recent years: distributing free or deeply discounted razor handles to load up consumers in advance of a rival's launch.

In addition, Gillette for years has routinely shipped free versions of its top-end razors to men on their 18th birthdays. Through Tremor, Schick is aiming to win boys even earlier, as Tremor reaches males as young as 13.

With the vast majority of sales and profits coming from replacement blades, giving away razors long has made sense to both marketers.

Challenge to quattro

For Schick, the Tremor effort comes amid the launch of Quattro Power, a four-bladed vibrating razor aimed squarely at Gillette's three-bladed M3Power. The latter already was losing share in recent months to Quattro, according to Information Resources Inc. data, in the wake of a July U.S. District Court injunction prohibiting Gillette from claiming M3Power could raise the hair on men's faces for a closer shave.

Tremor, which often offers sneak previews of new products or music, is designed to get products into the hands of teens screened for their ability to spread buzz. Since only a handful of its own brands are of interest to teens, P&G sells Tremor to outside marketers for as much as $1 million per project, both to keep teens interested and help defray costs.

For Schick, using Tremor dovetails with its strategy of targeting teens and young adults for Quattro Power. The brand's offbeat infomercials running on late-night TV and viral films at thatsthepowerof4.com are reminiscent of ads for Unilever's Axe deodorant.

Tremor

Schick is aiming to reach boys as young as 13 through the P&G buzz program

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