PHARMACIA & UPJOHN'S NEW ADS SEEK TO REVIVE ROGAINE SALES MONEY-BACK GUARANTEE BACKS EXTRA STRENGTH

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Hoping to stem the sales slide of hair-regrowth brand Rogaine, Pharmacia & Upjohn is breaking a TV spot promoting a money-back guarantee for its Extra Strength for Men extension.

The advertising from Jordan McGrath Case & Partners, New York, starts today on TV and later this week in The Wall Street Journal. The commercial says users can get a refund of up to $135 if they are dissatisfied after four months' use.

`YOU BE THE JUDGE'

The product "works for four out of five men who use it . . . you be the judge," says the spot, which then shows photos where it "stopped loss," "regrew hair," "regrew lots of hair" and "sorry."

"As we suspected, men are asking, `Will it work for me?' " said Ken Vargha, Pharmacia's director of marketing-consumer healthcare. "The 4-out-of-5 number was higher than what they were used to thinking about Rogaine."

Mr. Vargha explained that the new language was clearer for people to understand than the Food & Drug Adminstration's "complex" results wording on packaging.

Extra Strength sales represent 75% of the brand's sales now, he said, and meant a 30% boost for overall sales for the first half of this year compared to the first half of 1997. "We continued to take a beating" late last year, he said.

Extra Strength with 5% minoxidil was introduced early this year to give the brand a distinction, since it lost patent protection to generic competition for the 2% minoxidil strength when it crossed over the counter.

In a one-two punch, Rogaine also faced the introduction of Merck & Co.'s Propecia, a prescription pill getting heavy consumer ad support.

Rogaine received $33 million in media support in 1997; Propecia got $14.4 million through April, via Y&R Advertising, New York.

CATEGORY SALES FALLS

Rogaine brand sales fell 7.4% to $91.6 million for the 52 weeks ended July 19, according to Information Resources Inc., though it did not break out sales for the new Extra Strength version.

The overall category, which is made up of generic competition, fell even faster, down 13.5% to $138.5 million.

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