Consumers could interpret "leading blades" to refer to the
market leader, the NAD said. And the market leader wasn't
necessarily ProGlide. Nor was it necessarily Fusion or the
even-older Mach 3 (launched in 1998).
"In considering the message conveyed by the term 'leading
product,' NAD reviewed market-share data that indicated the Fusion
product was not the market leader at all pertinent time periods and
that Hydro was also a leading product at certain time points," said
a statement from the group. P&G didn't provide testing
comparing the thinness of ProGlide vs. Hydro products, the NAD
WPP's JWT, New York,
handles Schick. Omnicom Group's BBDO, New York, handles Gillette.
In statements, both Energizer and P&G said they disagreed
with the NAD's findings but would take them into account in future
ads. Energizer spokeswoman Jackie Burwitz declined to comment
further. P&G spokesman Damon Jones said, "Overall, we're
pleased with the rulings largely," given that Schick has been told
to make more extensive and substantive changes in its ads than
Schick launched Hydro last April, and Gillette followed soon
after with its new ProGlide system. Hydro produced early gains, but
those were largely wiped out in the early months of the ProGlide
launch last year. Since then, however, Hydro and Schick have come
The rulings come in the wake of what may be the most intensely
competitive period ever in one of the most-profitable categories in
packaged goods. For the four weeks ended Feb. 19, Energizer's share
was up 12.2 points in razors to 35.4% and 2.3 points to 14.7% in
replacement blades vs. the year-ago period, according to Nielsen
data from Sanford C. Bernstein. P&G's shares were down two
points in blades to 82.6% and down 10.8 points in razors to 60.8%.
The data excludes Walmart, club and dollar stores.
Changing ad claims could hurt Hydro's progress, given that
Energizer CEO Ward Klein, speaking at the Consumer Analyst Group of
New York conference last month in Boca Raton, Fla., said Hydro ads
had scored in the top 20% of all ads in copy testing. He also said
the 42% repeat rate for Hydro was considerably better than the 35%
rate for Fusion or the 25% rate for Schick's prior system, Quattro,
launched in 2003, at similar stages in their launch cycles.
Overall, he said Hydro had helped nearly double Schick's share of
men's razor systems to more than 14% in the past year.
For his part, P&G Chairman-CEO Bob McDonald said on a
January earnings conference call that Fusion ProGlide has had
category-record repeat rates, and that its share would be bigger
had the launch not so exceeded expectations that P&G ran out of
production capacity late last year. With capacity expanded, he said
P&G will ramp up production and marketing again this year.
P&G's Mr. Jones said Schick's most-recent share gains have
come amid a period of heavy promotion. "We're feeling good about
where we are [with ProGlide]," he said.