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After Johnson & Johnson bought out Neutrogena Corp. in 1994, Sheldon "Shelly" Zimbler, then Neutrogena president, was ready for new challenges. At Redmond Products, marketer of the Aussie line of haircare products, he got what he wanted.

Mr. Zimbler, 52, was hired in late 1995 as Redmond's president-chief operating officer. As part of his overall charge was to reverse declining revenues, which had fallen from $114 million in 1992 to $102 million in 1995, he turned to marketing.

He pushed hard for better distribution and display of the Aussie line in retailers such as Kmart, Wal-Mart and Walgreens. He also hiked ad budgets to raise consumer awareness, especially among teen-agers and men. Ad spending hit $12 million last year, double the 1995 amount, and the marketer's magazine list includes 24 titles via Webber Advertising, Eden Prairie, Minn.

The attention to details paid off. With sales of $120 million in 1996, Redmond Products again is considered a front-line challenger to Procter & Gamble Co., Unilever and, ironically, Neutrogena in drugstore shampoos, conditioners and hairstyling aids.

Redmond claims a 2.5% share of the $4 billion haircare market but boasts 15% operating margins on sales in a business where giant competitors like Unilever's Helene Curtis unit eke out 5%.

"We have a solid brand and products. It's just basic marketing and advertising," says Mr. Zimbler. "We saw two opportunities-teen-agers and men-that we hadn't before gone after. It was clear that we weren't speaking in either our copy or our media choices to these audiences, even though we had high usage with those audiences."

For 1998, the company is looking at a budget of $20 million, including TV, which should help move Aussie ahead.

"We finally have attained critical mass in print; we can support it with a TV awareness campaign," Mr. Zimbler says. "We have the products, we have the distribution, and now we have the advertising."

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