Super Bowl


Effort Kicks Off Brand's Biggest-Ever Launch

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CINCINNATI ( -- The extra-large launch of Gillette's six-bladed Fusion shaving system will kick off, fittingly, with advertising on Super Bowl XL, according to a retail executive briefed on the plans.

A Super Bowl introduction for Fusion has been subject of much speculation given timing of the estimated $200 million launch, which will have products hitting stores just in time for the big game Feb. 5. But Gillette executives have been mum on details of the critical Fusion launch, including when ads would break.

�No plans�
�We have announced no plans as of yet� for Super Bowl ads, said a spokesman for Gillette, which was acquired by Procter & Gamble Co. on Oct. 1. �We have advertised in the past on the Super Bowl, not every year but from time to time either to support the launch of a new product or a new marketing campaign.�

Gillette last ran a Super Bowl ad in 2004, the same year its new corporate owner, P&G, made its maiden voyage on the game. The company held an internal shootout to choose creative for the Super Bowl; an ad for Charmin toilet paper from Publicis Groupe�s Publicis Worldwide, New York, emerged victorious.

Gillette�s last Super Bowl appearance supported a new, more sentimental campaign behind the leading razor brand from Omnicom Group�s BBDO Worldwide, New York, which will also handle the 2006 advertising. Publicis� Starcom MediaVest Group, New York, handles communications planning and media buying.

Gillette�s 2004 ad, which included a clip of Muhammad Ali, was originally intended to feature soccer star David Beckham, but ultimately didn�t because Mr. Beckham wasn�t under contract in time, said Peter Klein, former Gillette senior VP-strategy and marketing in an industry talk last year. Mr. Beckham has since become Gillette�s top global celebrity endorser -- and surpassed Mr. Ali in global name recognition, according to Mr. Klein. The retail executive did not have details on the Super Bowl ad or ads for Fusion and whether it might include Mr. Beckham.

Fate of Fusion
For Gillette and P&G, much more will be riding on the big game than which team wins, even if the New England Patriots, whose stadium bears Gillette�s name, overcomes early season stumbles to make it there.

Fusion is likely P&G�s biggest new-product launch of 2006, and its fate could determine whether its $57 billion gamble on Gillette succeeds.

With a five-bladed surface on one side and a single trimming blade on the back, Fusion is the linchpin of Gillette�s biggest launch ever, at least by sheer girth of products. Gillette is simultaneously launching a battery-operated vibrating and a non-vibrating version of the razor as well as a line of Fusion shave creams and gels.

Peter Hoffman, Gillette�s president-blades and razors, predicted in September that Fusion will reach $1 billion in global sales by 2008.

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