NEW YORK — Noxzema is sporting a savvy new attitude, and its fresh, updated look could help the brand pull it off.

The 102 year-old face cleansing brand, owned by Procter & Gamble Co., had a French illustrator based in Germany create sexy, cheeky, clever characters to appeal to today’s smart shopper. The three “women,” each with different interests and cultural background, were designed to pull shoppers back to the brand they first used in their junior high school years.

There’s Brigid, 25, a ballet instructor who wears a bob and lives in Miami; Zoe, a 25-year-old fourth-grade teacher with long, wavy hair who lives in San Francisco, and Monique, 23, an aspiring actress with naturally curly, textured hair who lives in Brooklyn.

“Creating the characters was a way to visualize beauty, a way to bring beauty to life in a non-conventional way,” said Amy Spera, brand manager for Noxzema. “We are focusing on the emotional side of the brand.”

New print ads featuring the character first appeared in select May beauty magazines. A full launch of the ads is planned for July magazines. Ads also have been created for malls, restaurants, nightclubs and billboards. A Web site features the characters and explains the brand’s new hip positioning.

Industry sources estimate P&G is spending $15 million to $25 million on Noxzema’s advertising push, and the effort appears to be paying off. In the past three months, sales of Noxzema have grown nearly 15 percent, according to P&G. Over the past six months, P&G added, the brand has captured an additional share point in the face cleansing category, to a 7.7 percent dollar share.

Complementing the ads are limited-edition Noxzema jars sporting the Noxzema illustrated characters. Spera said the new advertising, not a change in formula, is driving sales.

“We were chasing the technology trends, but it is pretty easy to get [consumers] back when we talk about how [Noxzema once] made them feel,” said Spera. “We’re getting lost users back.”

While the heart of Noxzema’s business is still its tub of tingling cleansing cream, a bevy of products has been launched over the past five years, including the Triple Clean acne line and a face-cleansing line with a citrus fragrance, which is lighter than the traditional eucalyptus, camphor and menthol blended scent.

This story first appeared in the June 23, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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