P&G turns heads with latest rebranding push

CINCINNATI: Despite Head & Shoulders being the largest-selling shampoo brand in the world, Procter & Gamble has bigger plans for it.

CINCINNATI: Despite Head & Shoulders being the largest-selling shampoo brand in the world, Procter & Gamble has bigger plans for it.

For the past three years, P&G has been working toward evolving Head & Shoulders shampoo into a more beauty-aesthetic brand while maintaining its anti-dandruff efficacy. To that end, the consumer products giant recently launched the biggest initiative of that effort called Head Turning Hair, a multimillion dollar holistic brand building campaign that was created and led by the PR department.

While the company would not reveal the budget, it is the biggest PR investment ever for Head & Shoulders.

Anthony Rose, associate director of global beauty external relations at P&G, said PR led the entire brand-building process and was vital in helping P&G clear its biggest hurdle in trying to evolve the brand - consumers, particularly women, didn't think an anti-dandruff shampoo could deliver a cosmetic benefit.

"The bottom-line goal of the campaign is to break that barrier, create a platform, and establish ownership of the platform, Head Turning Hair," Rose said. "Doing that, it gives us credibility and allows us to live in both worlds: efficacy and beauty, male and female."

The initiative officially kicked off in January with an advertorial in Cosmopolitan announcing the Head Turning Hair contest.

As part of the contest, women are asked to submit a 200-word essay on why they believe they are head-turning. After 10 finalists have been selected, consumers and a panel of beauty experts set up by P&G will select the winner.

Consumers will be able to vote at Headturninghair.com, where they can also receive head-turning hair tips. The winner will be announced in June at an event in Times Square in New York City. To date, the contest has drawn more than 1,000 entries.

P&G will also promote the campaign and contest through SMTs, news releases, events featuring spokesperson and celebrity hair stylist Jason Hayes, and meetings with male and female beauty editors.

"This evolution is an ongoing challenge for us," Rose said. "Perception takes a lot of time to shift and women don't buy in with one shot. If this works out well for us, the next step in my mind is to align it with [other] properties. And that's really the point at which we begin to derive much more strategic and long-term benefits for the brand.

"We could align this platform to some of the top entertainment properties that will extend the reach and impact of the program," he added. "Cosmopolitan is the first partner, but next week we could go to a stylist association or a record label or American Idol and we can make this concept really, really big."

The consumer products company is working with Marina Maher Communications, the brand's agency since 1999, on the effort. P&G recently narrowed its roster of nine brand-focused agencies to five, including Marina Maher, in a comprehensive restructuring plan designed to foster a more collaborative environment between the company and its agencies.

Rose said the campaign will not only target women, but also men, as a result of research that the Head Turning Hair concept is appealing to both sexes.

"If you look at what we started three years back, this is now a completely different twist on the strategy for the brand in terms of the PR," he said. "So no more words like 'gorgeous' or 'beautiful' in our messaging. We have a descriptor that appeals to both male and female."

The campaign also includes sampling events, TV, print and radio advertising, in-store and online marketing, and merchandising triggers such as 50 million coupons and bonus packs.

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