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Executive Vice President, Personal Care, UNILEVER
This story first appeared in the December 14, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Unilever’s Gina Boswell looked to Europe to create a big splash in the U.S. mass market this year, bringing both Simple skin care and Clear Scalp & Hair Therapy Stateside. Before Simple hit store shelves in the U.S., Boswell built buzz with a robust social-media campaign and a cadre of bloggers. Simple, designed for sensitive skin, was already the number-one facial skin-care line in terms of units in the U.K., and got off to a solid start in the U.S., where retail sales totaled more than $37 million from its launch in January through Oct. 7 in the mass market, not including Wal-Mart, according to the SymphonyIRI Group. The brand’s formulas may be gentle, but the advertising messaging Boswell and her team backed was bold and disruptive. One TV ad starts with a beautiful white rose and a voice-over that says, “With something as pure and as beautiful as this, would you add artificial chemicals, dyes, perfumes….” Then comes a visual of pink liquid dousing the flower, followed by the statement, “Neither would we.” For Clear’s U.S. introduction, Boswell tapped Heidi Klum as a spokesperson backed by a hefty $250 million two-year ad budget. Its message, too, was concise and compelling: Beautiful hair starts with a healthy scalp. Boswell said, “We believe this is going to shake up America’s $6 billion hair-care category, because it’s the first new national brand to hit shelves in a few years, and it is doing that with a different message about feeding the scalp.” Attention-grabbing innovation: a magic formula for success if ever there was one.