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In a business known for slick advertising, Redmond Products' Aussie haircare brand stands out. The direct opposite of chic, Redmond's ads have long featured several generations of a family clad in bathrobes.

But there are signs the company, with estimated sales of $105 million in 1995, is becoming a bit more sophisticated in its marketing strategy as it seeks to challenge haircare Goliaths like Procter & Gamble Co. and Helene Curtis Industries, recently acquired by Unilever.

Chairman Tom Redmond Sr. has recruited former P&G executive Shelly Zimbler, most recently exec VP of Johnson & Johnson's Neutrogena Corp., as president.


And while Mr. Zimbler-the first non-family member to run the company-dismisses industry speculation that his arrival signals any interest on the part of the Redmond family in selling or going public, there is no denying he has been brought in to increase the business.

"Tom is a wonderful man and the business has grown to the point where the family had to make a decision to sell or bring in a non-family member," Mr. Zimbler said.

According to A.C. Nielsen Co. for the 52 weeks ended Dec. 2, 1995, Aussie was the No. 1 brand in the $541.2 million styling aids segment with a 9.4% share, topping No. 2 L'Oreal, at 9.1% share.

In the larger shampoo and conditioner markets, Aussie's rank was much lower but its market share comes near that of some second-tier brand names. In the $682.4 million conditioner segment, for example, Aussie was ranked No. 8 with a 4.4% share, well below the 13.8% share of P&G's No. 1 Pantene but not far off No. 5-ranked Finesse from Helene Curtis, with a 5.9% share.


In June, Aussie will break a $10 million "tweaked" campaign from Webber Advertising, Eden Prairie, Minn., which retains the account despite interest from other agencies. The agency-run by Charles Webber, Mr. Redmond's son-in-law-is maintaining the family image in the new campaign with a new theme line of "Who is this family and why should you care?"

Mr. Zimbler said spending this year is up by 25% from last year's $8 million with 1995's 50/50 split between magazines and TV shifting to 80% print and 20% TV.


As part of the campaign, Mr. Zimbler has also increased the number of magazines Aussie will use and will run four-page inserts in six of the 15 books for greater impact.

"Whatever sales increases are generated will be put back into advertising," he said. "Our share of voice is low."

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