UV INDEX BACKS SUNSCREEN SURGE: EVEN LITTLE MISS COPPERTONE COVERS UP TO AVOID HARMFUL RAYS

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Schering-Plough Corp. wants to make the Ultraviolet Index as ubiquitous as the daily weather report.

The dominant player in the suncare market with a 33.1% share, Schering-Plough began testing the National UV Index last summer (AA, May 5, et seq.) and rolls national in 200 cities this year, tagging it the Ultraviolet Index.

A joint effort with the National Weather Service, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Centers for Disease Control and health groups, the UV Index offers a report on the ultraviolet risk level as part of the local weather forecast, including how quickly people will burn if unprotected. In test cities, Schering-Plough research found 70% of consumers were aware of the index and most increased use of sunscreens.

Sunscreens have been a growing piece of the $500 million suncare market, and sun precaution is even moving into apparel, where direct marketers and others have begun selling protective clothing. In its spring 1995 catalog, After the Stork is selling SunSkins, clothing for children that blocks "50% more of the sun's harmful UV rays than regular clothing."

But the need for sunscreens apparently isn't realized by all. The American Academy of Dermatology says skin cancer has reached epidemic proportions, growing at the rate of 4% to 5% annually, or more than 1 million cases.

Schering-Plough, whose premier brand is Coppertone with a 27.1% share, will support the national index rollout with National Sun Protection Awareness Week May 21-28 as well as ongoing celebrity public service announcements on TV and UV Index Centers in retail outlets. Hill & Knowlton, New York and Washington, is handling.

Kurt Brykman, senior director-suncare marketing at Schering-Plough, said the company will spend $30 million on suncare marketing this year, including $2 million on the UV Index that will result in cutback in marketing to professionals.

Media spending is budgeted at $10 million, unchanged from last year.

UV Index support also will include a "Sunwise in '95" Little Miss Coppertone covered up to promote sun protection.

"After 42 years, Little Miss Coppertone has another important new role. Not only is she a national symbol of fun in the sun, but she is now helping make people more aware of the need for UV sun protection," said Russell Elliot, Schering-Plough VP-advertising and marketing communications.

Recognizing that consumers still want to tan, however, Schering-Plough is introducing Protect & Tan, a combination water-resistant sun protection lotion and self-tanner in ads from Messner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmetterer/Euro RSCG, New York. The product imparts "the healthy glow of a tan" while screening out harmful ultraviolet rays.

Protect & Tan is one example of suncare marketers' recognition that they are also skincare marketers.

Procter & Gamble Co.'s Bain de Soleil is introducing two new products that mitigate the sun's dire effects. One is Gentle Block, a high-protection product; the other is Deep Dark Sunless, a self-tanner. N W Ayer & Partners is P&G's agency of record.

In recent years, media spending on Bain de Soleil has dwindled to as low as $2 million. The company hasn't revealed spending plans for 1995, but trade sources indicated the two new products won't get media support.

Rumors surfaced that P&G may actually sell the line, but the marketer, per its standard policy on rumors, wouldn't comment. But one executive close to the company said P&G won't sell Bain de Soleil because the company believes that as long as it is in skincare, it also must be in suncare.

Bain de Soleil is the No. 3 suncare line with a 9.2% share, according to Information Resources Inc., trailing Playtex's Banana Boat with 10.7%.

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