As hosiery sales decline, No Nonsense ups budget

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No Nonsense hopes to give its hosiery a leg up through advertising that touts the product's slimming effect.

A TV spot debuting today on cable network Lifetime Television, focuses on a middle-aged, full-figured woman who meets her husband's young, slender colleague at a party. As the younger woman flirts with the husband, the wife smiles politely, but secretly seethes with jealousy at the colleague's "perfectly flat stomach." The wife's contemptuous thoughts are flashed in subtitles at the bottom of the screen. The spot ends with the tagline "We know how it is. Figure control." Then the No Nonsense logo appears.

No Nonsense will launch only one TV ad, but the spot is slated to receive $15 million in media spending. The commercial is No Nonsense's first campaign since 1998, and marks the first effort from Mc-Kinney & Silver, Raleigh, N.C., which won the account earlier this year.

The ad is meant to be a "confidence booster" to women, said Liz Paradise, copywriter and VP-group creative director at McKinney, because it emphasizes the that they are not expected to have ideal bodies.

Like other hosiery manufacturers, No Nonsense maker Kayser-Roth Corp. currently battles declining consumer demand. Long considered uncomfortable and expensive, hosierywear has plummeted in today's more relaxed office environments.

Sales of sheer hosiery and tights fell 7.1% in 1999, to $2.3 billion, after dropping 7.6% in 1998, according to the consultancy NPD Group. At the same time, No Nonsense's total media spending dropped from $4.5 million in 1995 to $51,000 in 1998.


Despite market pressures, the new ad does not directly address concerns about fashion or comfort, but instead focuses solely on hosiery's "figure control" qualities. In fact, the women's legs are visible for only a moment of the 30-second spot, and it is impossible to determine whether the women are wearing flesh-toned hosiery or following last year's bare-legged trend.

Ms. Paradise said McKinney deliberately didn't concentrate on the women's legs

"Really, the intention was to put the focus on the women themselves, not just part of their bodies," she said.

But the spot -- which pits a wife against her husband's female co-worker -- can also be viewed as playing to women's insecurities about their appearances, and might backfire as unmodern.

"It's not today's type of commercial," said Laura Ries, a branding expert with Ries & Ries Consulting. "You have all these stereotypes selling a product that's mired in stereotypes."

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