BRECK IS BACK
Byline: Andrea M. Grossman
NEW YORK — The Breck hair care brand — of the famous Breck girl advertising campaign — now has a step parent that intends to revive the 72-year-old shampoo line. Himmel Hair Care Products, a division of New York-based The Himmel Group, purchased the licensing rights for Breck in the U.S., Canada, Europe and Asia from The Dial Corporation on June 26. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.
While Breck isn’t expected to reappear on mass shelves until the first or second quarter of next year — Dial discontinued Breck in December 2000 — one thing’s for sure: the Breck girl will be brought back to market the product.
Jeffrey Himmel, chairman and chief executive officer of The Himmel Group, believes the Breck girl is what brings the brand equity to Breck.
“The Breck brand, which includes the Breck girl, competes in a category that has as strong an image as some $400 million brands,” referring to Clairol’s Herbal Essences and Procter & Gamble’s Pantene. The value of the brand’s equity, he said, surmounts the fact that Breck has virtually no distribution; Breck has retail distribution in Mexico and a small presence in some U.S. hotels.
Breck was created by Dr. John H. Breck, who in 1929 founded John H. Breck Inc., which sold Breck exclusively in salons. Breck gained a glamour image by way of its pastel illustrations of beautiful women in its advertisements. Past Breck girls include Kim Basinger, Jacqueline Smith, Brooke Shields, Cybill Shepherd, Cheryl Tiegs and Christie Brinkley, although Himmel can’t say for sure if all the Breck girls featured in ads were based on real women.
On May 18, 1963, John H. Breck Inc. became a wholly owned subsidiary of American Cyanamid, run by the company’s Schulton Division, headquartered in Wayne, NJ.
In 1978 American Cyanamid discontinued the Breck girl ads, but brought the campaign back briefly in 1987. Breck was bought by Dial in 1991, however, the company neither aggressively marketed nor expanded the brand.
While Himmel and Patrick G. Dwyer, president of Himmel Hair Care Products, have their work cut out for them in the competitive hair care market, The Himmel Group has quite a track record for reviving brands. Himmel Nutrition, a division of the Himmel Group, for example, bought the rights to Ovaltine in 1992 when the chocolate drink had only $11 million in sales. Over a period of several years and many late night T.V. and radio ad campaigns, Ovaltine last year generated over $30 million in sales. Himmel also has rejuvenated the Topol, Gold Bond, Lavoris and Doan’s Pills brands over the past 30 years.
Himmel contends that the hair care market is ripe for Breck.
“We are ready to dedicate our resources to bring Breck the popularity it enjoyed in the past. I think the only limit is our own creativity,” Himmel said.