Sunscreens heat up products and pitches

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As spring break crowds begin their annual assault on southern beaches, sunscreen manufacturers have begun their own marketing and new-product assault.

Makers of tanning lotions will push sunscreens for adults and children in new spray, foam, stick and colored formulas, along with the increasingly popular sunless tanners. Sampling and promotions began this month and will last through the summer season, peaking between Memorial Day and the Fourth of July holiday.

The category leader, Schering-Plough Corp.'s Coppertone, has added several extensions to its Coppertone Kids and Water Babies lines for children, as well as new products in its adult lines: Coppertone Shade, Coppertone to Go sprays and Coppertone Sport waterproof sunscreens.

The introductions include Coppertone Kids Wacky Foam Sunblock, a new line of mousselike scented children's sunscreens with SPF 40. The foams will be available in a colorless version as well as three colored versions -- purple, green and orange -- within its ColorBlock line. In addition, Water Babies will get two Sunblock Lotion Spray extensions, in SPF 30 and SPF 45.

New adult products include three spray-on sunscreens -- Coppertone Shade Spray Mist in SPF 30, Coppertone Sport Sunblock Spray and Coppertone to Go Sunblock Spray, both in SPF 15 and SPF 30 -- as well as Coppertone Sport Sunblock Stick and Coppertone Cool Gel Aloe Aftersun moisturizing lotion.

The new products will be backed by TV advertising from Messner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmetterer/Euro RSCG, New York. Additionally, Coppertone joined with the American Camping Association to create Camp Coppertone, a package of educational materials on sun protection for children attending summer camp.

BAIN DE SOLEIL

This summer, Schering-Plough also for the first time will market former rival brand Bain de Soleil, which it acquired in October from Pfizer Corp. Bain de Soleil will launch two new products for the season, an orange-scented Tanning Mist, in SPF 4 and SPF 8, and Sunless for Face, a self-tanning cream.

Schering-Plough will re-run last year's Bain de Soleil print campaign, which included magazine inserts featuring its Streakguard Sunless Tanning Creme and Orange Gelee sunscreen, with a scent strip so consumers can sample the lotion's citrus smell. The ads, from Cline, Davis & Mann, New York, broke in April issues of fashion and lifestyle magazines.

Competition in the $484 million sunscreen segment has increased as consumers' concerns about sun exposure and its relationship to skin cancers continue. The market has grown 27% in sales since 1994, according to Information Resources Inc., and new competitors have joined the fray.

Coppertone remains the leader within the sunscreen segment, with 30.4% of the market for the 52 weeks ended Jan. 30, according to IRI numbers. Playtex Corp.'s Banana Boat line was No. 2 with 20.4%, followed by Johnson & Johnson's Neutrogena with 10.7% and Tanning Research Laboratories' Hawaiian Tropic with 8.2%.

Banana Boat began shipping new products to Florida markets in February and expects to have the new items in national distribution at mass merchants by the end of March. Its two key new product introductions are Kool Kolorz Vanishing Foaming Lotion, a sunscreen for children, and Banana Boat Hair & Scalp Protector.

Kool Kolorz is a mousselike purple foam with SPF 30 that disappears when rubbed into the skin; when the colorful foam is absorbed, a thorough application is ensured. Hair & Scalp Protector is a spray product with sunscreen and conditioners to prevent sun damage and keep colored hair from fading due to sun exposure. Additionally, Playtex will launch several extensions of its waterproof Banana Boat Sport Sunblock, including Sport Sunblock Stick SPF 30 and Sport Sunblock Spray SPF 30.

Banana Boat began promotions last month at spring break sites such as Texas' South Padre Island and Florida beaches. Playtex will concentrate promotions for the brand in 41 spot radio markets, said Ken Meeker, VP-marketing for Playtex Suncare. Efforts include radio spots, contest promotions with local radio stations, on-site sampling at beaches and local events and "tons of in-store promotion" Mr. Meeker said.

KOOSH GIVEAWAY

TV branding ads will run from early May through July 4, mainly on channels favored by young people, such as Fox TV and the WB network. Another spot, for the children's product, will break around Memorial Day and run through late July, Mr. Meeker said. Additionally, Banana Boat will give away an Oddzon Koosh toy with the purchase of products in the Kool Kolorz line, as part of a promotion aimed at children.

All efforts will continue the brand's tagline, "For fun, get on the boat." Grey Advertising, New York, handles most of the creative and media for the account, except for radio ads and promotions, which are handled by TMPG, White Plains, an agency specializing in radio.

No. 3 Neutrogena will break ads from Carlson Partners, New York, in spring magazines. The company is shipping three new product extensions to stores in March and April: Instant Bronze Tinted Sunless Tanner, Sunless Tanning Foam in Deep and Extra Deep shades, and Sensitive Skin UVA/UVB Block in SPF 17 and SPF 30, a non-irritating formula for post-surgical patients and consumers with dermatological problems.

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