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Pond’s To Unveil ‘Proof Strips’

NEW YORK -- Ladies, get ready to strip.

In the name of good skin, Biore gave teens a tool to track the cleanliness of their pores. And now Pond's is stepping up with a similar gauge to help their mother's monitor the depth of their...

NEW YORK — Ladies, get ready to strip.

In the name of good skin, Biore gave teens a tool to track the cleanliness of their pores. And now Pond’s is stepping up with a similar gauge to help their mother’s monitor the depth of their wrinkles.

Calling it “unprecedented” in the treatment of fine lines and wrinkles, Pond’s has developed a new anti-aging skin care collection along with “Proof Strips” that essentially dust for facial lines the way the FBI dusts for fingerprints.

It has been several years since the 155-year-old facial brand has made serious noise in the anti-age arena. Back in 1994 it was a forerunner in the alpha hydroxy acid craze with the introduction of the Pond’s Age Defying Complex series.

But in the last two years numerous brands including Olay, L’Oreal, Neutrogena and Nivea have moved ahead with a litany of new products and Pond’s sales have been suffering. According to Information Resources Inc., Pond’s retail sales of anti-aging products (excluding Wal-mart) fell 29 percent to $15.3 million for the year ended Dec. 2, 2001.

With the Pond’s Dramatic Results lineup, 3 1/2 years in development, it believes it has something that can spearhead a rally.

Sticking by its AHA roots, Pond’s Dramatic Results formulas combine alpha hydroxy acids, retinol and vitamin C in its “Triple Hydroxy Complex” to provide skin treatment items that it claims are an improvement on what is currently available, according to Michael Cheney, director of global skin care product development for The Pond’s Institute, the firm’s research and development arm.

“The formulas have a beautiful aesthetic,” added Cheney. “The focus is on hydration and protection from future aging,” said Joanne Hook, brand director for Pond’s. The treatments have been designed to improve skin tone, roughness, photodamage, hyperpigmentation, fine lines and wrinkles.

The centerpiece of the four-item collection is an anti-age cream that comes in an airtight aluminum tube priced $13.99 for 1.25-ounces. There is also Active Face and Neck Moisturizer, at $13.99 for a 1.7-oz. bottle; Active Hydrating Cleaner, at $7.99 for a 5-oz. bottle and Age Defying Towelettes, which were introduced last year and now folded into the Dramatic Results line. The cream can be applied directly to trouble spots or used on the entire face. It contains pure retinol and 8 percent glycolic acid, as does the moisturizer.

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After cleansing with either the towelettes or the liquid cleanser, Pond’s recommends women wait 10 to 15 minutes to let skin settle before applying the cream or moisturizer. It is also recommended that the items be used in conjunction with a sunscreen.

Hook expects Dramatic Results to outpace its existing Age Defying series in its first year on shelf. For now Pond’s plans to market both collections. She declined to comment, but sources believe Dramatic Results could achieve first-year sales of $20 million to 25 million.

While the efficacy of the products are at the core of Dramatic Results, it is the introduction of the Proof Strips that is expected to grab the attention of consumers. The strips are included with the cream and moisturizer and are used to track skin improvement over time. To use, first a sheet with soft white powder is wiped across the area being measured. A sticky strip is placed on top to pick up the outline created by the powder. Then the strip is placed on a black card to reveal the depth of the damage. Pond’s recommends women take a measurement in four-week increments. Cheney says women will see immediate improvements but gains will continue with ongoing use. In its consumer testing Pond’s employs a five-point scale. Women with a grade 5, or the most severe wrinkles, could improve as much as a grade 2, said Cheney.

“Women forget what they looked like before,” explained Hook on why the strips were useful. “This is a personal diagnostic tool.”

To support the launch, Pond’s will employ a broad print campaign, breaking with weekly books in March and monthly books in April. Products will be onshelf in March. The campaign tagline, said Hook, is “My lines have met their match.” Hook declined to say what Pond’s is spending but sources estimate the budget at $7 million to $10 million. The campaign, created by Olgilvy, “is a celebration of how women get lines,” said Hook. Reads one ad: “My worry lines owe everything to a husband who is always late, a 15-year-old daughter who wants a tattoo and last, but not least, to cellulite.”

There will also be some 4 million mailed samples. The products will also be sampled at retail through in-store demonstrations and a shelf fixture that provides a bottle of moisturizer to test.

The white, silver and cranberry packaging, “brings department store imagery into the drugstore,” said Hook. Displays will also offer brochures to explain the products.