Skin care next beauty battlefield

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Playing off the popularity of Botox, L'Oreal in July launches Wrinkle De-Crease with "Boswelox," a botanical ingredient from India, backed, according to a sales rep, with $15 million in TV and print ads in its first six months alone.

That line is one of a host of skin-care initiatives from L'Oreal, Unilever, Procter & Gamble Co. and others showcased at the National Association of Chain Drug Stores show recently in San Diego, where it was clear that skin care will be the next beauty battlefield.

Unlike Botox, a biotoxin that immobilizes muscles to reduce wrinkles, Wrinkle De-Crease fills them in and smoothes them out. Retailing for less than $20 at mass retailers, the line is similar to L'Oreal's Lancome Resolution, which sells for $50 in prestige beauty outlets. Besides an "advanced wrinkle correction" cream, De-Crease also comes in an eye line eraser stick.

At the same time, L'Oreal is restaging its Plenitude and Pure Zone brands, folding both into a L'Oreal Dermo-Expertise facial cleanser and moisturizer brand that gibes with the Body Expertise line. Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann Erickson Worldwide, New York, handles L'Oreal's skin-care brands.

L'Oreal's overall market share in skin care has risen over the past year with the launch of Pure Zone last fall and Body Expertise last winter. But sales of Plenitude facial moisturizers are down by double digits in the 52 weeks ended May 18, according to Information Resources Inc., and Pure Zone has disappointed some retail executives. Now, Pure Zone, aimed at the 12 to 24 age range, will become one of five color-coded sub-lines, each addressing skin-care needs of a different range, in the new Dermo-Expertise lineup meant to attract and keep women in the fold from their teens through old age.

Spending wasn't disclosed, but Dermo-Expertise will get both TV and print support.

L'Oreal is fending off P&G's Olay Regenerist super-premium line launched this spring and Unilever's Dove, which this month ships the Essential Nutrients facial moisturizer and cleanser line and a new Dove Exfoliating Bar and Body Wash backed by more than $60 million in total marketing support.

Exfoliating may be the rage in women's skin care, but it's become a dirty word in the nascent men's segment. Beiersdorf's Nivea for Men recently renamed its men's "Exfoliating" scrub to "Deep Cleaning."

secret endorser

Coty will try to beef up the masculine appeal of its Adidas Active Skincare for Men by using an undisclosed athlete endorser in the brand's first TV ads, set to break in August, said John Galantic, president, Coty U.S. Coty in August also introduces Stetson Unlimited, a fragrance to be backed by TV, print and sampling.

P&G, through licensee Universal Razor, recently launched Old Spice's first entry into Nivea-style men's skin care. The macho image Old Spice cultivates in ads could add legitimacy to the rest of the category, said an executive with Johnson & Johnson's Neutrogena. And in another sign men's skin care may be gaining broader acceptance, Unilever later this month launches Suave for Men body wash, an extension of the hair-care line launched this winter.

Big budgets will also support products outside skin care. In oral care, P&G's Crest in September launches a Crest Whitening Effects featuring three "extreme" flavors, such as Citrus Breeze, defying the category's heritage of tame tastes. One retail executive said Crest will put more than $50 million in marketing behind the launch. Publicis Groupe's Saatchi & Saatchi handles Crest.

SC Johnson & Son's Glade, meanwhile, is looking to reverse share losses in recent years to Reckitt Benckiser's Airwick with two gadgets to drive its air-freshener oil business. Next month it launches Plug-Ins oil scents with built-in variable-speed fans, backed by $15 million in ads, from Interpublic`s Foote Cone Belding, Chicago. Glade Car, an oil-based air freshener that clips on to auto vents, ships at the same time, backed by $5 million in ads.

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