P&G Brings Braun Back to TV as Brand Rebounds From Long Decline

Seen as Divestiture Candidate by Some, Brand Enlists NFL for Comeback

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After a fall from Procter & Gamble Co.'s pantheon of billion-dollar brands and a media benching, Braun will re-emerge as a prime-time player this fall with a return to TV and a high-profile NFL partnership alongside big brother Gillette.

The "FaceGreatness" campaign featuring Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson comes as P&G prepares to shed as many as 100 brands globally, with some analysts believing Braun could or should be one of them. So could this be the last chance for the brand with P&G, or a dressing up for sale?

P&G executives working on Braun declined to comment on any divestiture plans. But Brian Messerschmitt, senior brand manager for Braun, said the brand had the strongest sales growth in its history in North America for the fiscal year completed June 30. And he said grooming remains strategically important to P&G.

The campaign from Barefoot Proximity, Cincinnati, broke Aug. 7 with an online video and print ad in USA Today, but will also include more print advertising in ESPN the Magazine in September and a prime-time TV ad on Thanksgiving, when Mr. Wilson's Seahawks play their archrivals, the San Francisco 49ers. P&G also "has access" to Mr. Wilson's social -media followings on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, Mr. Messerschmitt said.

Barefoot, primarily a digital shop, has handled Braun in recent years as its parent, Omnicom's BBDO, handled the brand globally.

While P&G didn't disclose spending, it's a "significant uptick, because we're coming off a fantastic year," Mr. Messerschmitt said.

It's also a media re-emergence for a brand that's been in decline until recently. Braun went from a 16.7% volume share globally in 2005, the year it was acquired by P&G in the Gillette deal, to 13.9% last year, and from 9.5% in the U.S. to 5.7%, according to Euromonitor. The brand quietly slipped from P&G's list of billion-dollar brands in the company's annual report for fiscal 2013 after having been there since 2005.

P&G spent $17 million on measured media for Braun in 2010, the last year it got any TV support, according to Kantar Media, but only $7 million in total from 2011 to 2013 combined, including $2 million last year.

While Mr. Messerschmitt declined to provide dollar figures, he said the brand's strong fiscal year came from a combination of the launch of a new, better-performing Series 5 system, "getting sales fundamentals right with our brick-and-mortar customers," a strong Father's Day program to close the fiscal year, and strong performance in online and e-commerce marketing. That included digital couponing and better targeting and messaging with digital ads, he said.

Creatively, the campaign made sense because the NFL is the most popular sport in the U.S., he said, "and Russell is the most popular player in the NFL."

Mr. Messerschmitt, who previously worked in sports marketing with P&G, said that while the campaign is obviously tied to football season, Braun will also play along with the NFL's desire to make partnerships year-round, tying marketing efforts to such things as the NFL draft and combine for draft-eligible players in the spring.

Sibling Gillette will continue its NFL partnership. "For the most part, we tend to have different consumers," Mr. Messerschmitt said. "There's enough separation between our consumers and what we're trying to do that we can both play in the same sport."

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