Calgon ads refresh brand image

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Calgon has been taken away to a new look from a new ad agency.

Coty U.S.' top bath and body brand will launch new ads in December magazines, which keep the longtime tagline "Calgon, take me away" but introduce a new style for the 40-year-old brand.

The ads replace past product-focused ads with a look that emphasizes Calgon's relaxation benefits and serves as a brand image message, said Anastasia Ayala, senior VP-global fragrances.

Coty will spend about $2 million on print ads in the next six months and may expand the campaign into TV if the print ads are successful.


The image overhaul is part of Coty's effort to show how it has changed since it was spun off into an independent holding company in 1996 by its parent, German household products conglomerate Joh. A. Benckiser.

This is the first campaign for Calgon from Frierson, Mee & Partners, New York, which won the account in July. The brand had been at Margeotes/Fertitta & Partners, New York, since Benckiser moved the account from Grey Advertising in 1992. Coty's marketers said they were happy with Margeotes' work, but wanted to change the look of the brand (AA, July 31).

The client had been impressed with the work Frierson Mee did for last fall's launch of its Adidas Moves fragrance for men, a $30 million global campaign that included a high-energy TV and print campaign with an active lifestyle angle.


The new ads feature one of two models posing peacefully against a background of zooming traffic. "The world is on fast forward. Pause," says copy. The ads will break in December issues of fashion, health and women's service magazines, including Glamour, Health, People, Self, Seventeen and YM. The campaign also will have a significant buy in magazines aimed at ethnic consumers, such as Essence and Latina.

The campaign and media buy were designed to appeal to a wide audience of women, since Calgon has a deep following across several demographic and ethnic segments, said Ms. Ayala. It is popular with African American and Latina consumers, and has a strong following among mature consumers who remember the original "Take me away" campaign in the 1960s, as well as among teens, she said.

What Calgon needed was a more modern, relevant positioning, Ms. Ayala said. Although the brand has not had a high profile recently -- and had not advertised since early 2000 -- it still has a high awareness. She noted Coty's focus groups tallied an 85% brand awareness for Calgon among women. "The minute you say, `Calgon,' they say, `Take me away,' " she said.

Calgon is one of several brands getting a face-lift as Coty tries for a more upscale image. The company has revamped its corporate look -- including a redesigned Web site and collateral materials -- and is undergoing a review of its product lines to focus on global brands. Coty dominates the $1.1 billion U.S. mass-market fragrance segment, thanks to brands such as Calgon, Healing Garden and Jovan Musk.

An in-house team recently created new packaging for Calgon's powders and home fragrance products, but the brand's last image repositioning came in 1997, when Calgon introduced its Body Spray fragrances. Coty spent $8 million in U.S. media for the Calgon brand in 1999, said Competitive Media Reporting.

Calgon's "adult" line -- made up of bath powders, foam and other traditional products focused on skincare -- will be repackaged in early 2001 and relaunched with a new print campaign in February magazines. The line also will get body wash, body mist and body lotion extensions and a unisex scent extension targeted at men.

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