Marketing 50

Combe

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It's hard to miss the point of ads backing Just for Men. Combe's bevy of aging sports stars and vibrant-looking middle-age executive-types drives home that "The Rejuvenator" dramatically improves odds of success in dating and business as it washes away gray.

Hitting hard on emotional benefits has kept men's hair color growing even as the women's segment has declined, says Michael Wendroff, 44, VP-men's personal grooming at Combe.

"There's more potential for guys to come into the category," says Mr. Wendroff, who came to Combe six years ago from Playtex Products. "More and more guys are acting in very different ways than their parents."

Though the hair color category's total sales fell 3.1%, Just for Men rose 5.6% to $72.4 million and Combe's overall hair color sales, including Grecian Formula and new Maxim hair color for younger men, rose 5.1% to $94.2 million in the 52 weeks ended Sept. 6, according to Information Resources Inc.

Combe attracted younger men by teaming with Dennis Publishing's Maxim last year for a new line featuring Carmen Electra. It's trying to overcome some men's reservations with a "Try-Out" rinseable Just for Men kit. "One issue that keeps guys from trying hair color is that they're concerned about what it will look like," Mr. Wendroff says.

Combe also hired La Agencia de Orci & Asociados, Los Angeles, to support a Hispanic shade of Just for Men this fall. But most Combe ads come from an in-house agency that Mr. Wendroff credits for much of the company's hair color success. "They're up to speed all the time," he says. "And they're sharing the same goals we have to make those cash registers ring."

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