Dusting off a 50-year-old brand to make it attractive to an entirely new (and younger) consumer can work, and using sex as the predominant lure, well, that can almost ensure a victory.
The VO5 hair care brand, which is value-priced and generally appeals to the 35-year-old and over crowd, has hit a sales surge in the wake of a restage of its hair care, styling and treatment items this year.
Data from Information Resources Inc. show that, for the most recent four-week period, sales of Alberto VO5 hair spray and spritz styling products grew more than 7 percent, outpacing the category, which gained just 2.5 percent.
VO5's new styling line, Extreme Style, along with racy ads, began appearing in stores and magazines in August. The line includes seven styling products and is packaged with colorful graffiti artwork to evoke an urban feel. Products retail for $3.49 each.
Rob Keen, director of marketing for VO5, said the brand set out to establish a connection with a new consumer earlier this year, particularly the 18- to 35-year-old crowd which is bent on expressing "individual style."
"There's a segment of consumers who want to express individual style but there is no brand that stands for that. So we tapped into this target very heavily," he said.
The effort is part of VO5's estimated $25 million marketing effort to reposition itself in the hair care category. In January, the brand, which is owned by Alberto-Culver of Melrose Park, Ill., repackaged and reformulated its shampoo and conditioners, just enough so that they wouldn't abandon their value shopper. In August, Extreme Style hit retailer shelves. Next month, VO5's well-known hot oil treatment will get new packaging to focus on the premium positioning of the product.
Television ads for Extreme Style were created by Element 79 of Chicago and speak to both genders. Thirty-second spots are airing on cable stations including MTV, VH1 and Fuse. Both the TV and print ads for Extreme Style speak rather frankly about sex — or at the very least, fooling around. One image shows a hipster guy aside a chic girl entering an elevator. Upon exiting the elevator, both have mussed up hair, clothing that is all asunder and smirks on their faces."This consumer is very ad-savvy. We needed to be clever," said Keen. "It may be offensive to some but for our target that was pretty much nonexistent. We were not pushing the needle too far. This is a new consumer and they have to be talked at with a message they understand."
Keen joined the VO5 brand team in January, as did Brent Shakeshaft, the new vice president of U.S. hair care.
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