PLAYTEX AGENCY REVIEW DOWN TO 5 FOR $15 MIL-PLUS ACC'T: SARA LEE UNIT READIES FALL LAUNCH FOR 2 NEW 18 HOUR BRA BRANDS

By Published on .

Sara Lee Corp.'s Playtex unit will wrap up its $15 million-plus account review within 30 days, just as the marketer gets ready to launch new products it hopes will broaden the appeal of the Cross Your Heart and 18 Hour brands.

"We are committed to advertising and technology as the driver of our business," said Cheryl Vitali, VP-marketing.

FIVE FINALISTS

There are five finalists in the review, believed to include Grey Advertising, Gotham and Lowe & Partners/SMS, all New York, as well as DDB Needham Worldwide, Chicago.

Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising, New York, the incumbent, parted ways with Playtex earlier this year.

Ms. Vitali said that in choosing a new agency, she's "looking for a strategic partner."

The marketer will introduce two new brands under its 18 Hour label this fall.

The new Comfort Flex bra will feature cushioned straps with lots of flexibility so the bra feels as though it's custom-fitted. An accompanying line of new shapewear called Sleek Shapers includes full briefs, waist shapers and long leg support.

Comfort Flex follows Comfort Strap, which came out three years ago and has nearly doubled the size of Playtex's 18 Hour business, Ms. Vitali said.

While Comfort Flex will be the major launch, Playtex also will introduce a Cross Your Heart Side Shaping Underwire With Cushion Strap bra and a Side Shaping Soft Cup With Cushion Strap model.

That launch is set for July, with print and TV advertising from Saatchi & Saatchi.

15% SHARE

NPD Group research shows the Playtex brand has a 15% share of the $3.6 billion category, more than double that of its next two competitors-Warnaco's Warner's brand and Victoria's Secret.

According to Ms. Vitali, its annual ad budget of $15 million to $20 million affords it a 40% share of voice in the category.

But with sales growth only slightly up, if not flat, Playtex is looking to reach more women, including baby boomers who previously may not have thought of Playtex as a brand of choice.

"Ours is the only brand that offers a side-shaping benefit," Ms. Vitali said of this summer's efforts and its first such style launched last fall.

"Most bras talk about cup support while side-shaping addresses the overall circumference. A lot of women need that after changes in tone or after giving birth."

STRATEGIC ALIGNMENT

Ms. Vitali cited such product benefits in discussing the agency selection process.

"We want a strategic alignment with our agency to make the Playtex brand more relevant to women," she said. "We are looking for a great strategic partner."

Contributing: Laura Petrecca.

In this article:
Most Popular