DIRECTOR TO BOOT DEGREE
Copyright 2002 www.reuters.com
[ March 19th 2002 ]
food and consumer products giant Unilever Plc
is heading to Hollywood to promote its Degree
deodorant brand in the U.S. with a 30-second,
action-packed commercial from the director of
box-office successes Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and
Simon West to direct a commercial for Degree Body-Heat
Activated Gel, Unilever is hoping for the type
of mini action movie that will grab the attention
of men in their late teens, 20s and early 30s,
a group deodorant makers have been sweating to
attract. The new gel is being launched nationally
Procter & Gamble Co. (PG) recently began a campaign
to sell Old Spice to 18- to 34-year-olds, many
of whom think of the brand as something their
grandfathers used, while Gillette Co. (G) launched
Right Guard Extreme Sport in 2000, seeking the
13- to 25-year-old market.
is to catch young men when they start buying their
own deodorant instead of having their mothers
buy it. The U.S. deodorant market has been stagnant
at about $1.2 billion in sales for the past several
years, William Steele, consumer products analyst
at Banc of America Securities, said. That makes
it more important to win new customers, because
a young man's first deodorant of choice could
be what he uses for a long time. "It's been an
untapped market when you look at personal care,"
Steele said of marketing toward young men.
has about 8 percent of the U.S. deodorant market,
ranking fourth, just ahead of Old Spice. Most
men's deodorants hold an 8 percent to 9 percent
market share -- with Right Guard at 9.9 percent
-- and are trying to break out of the pack, Esther
Lem, vice president, deodorant brand development,
Degree, said. Degree, which had been a growing
brand for a decade, has stumbled recently. "You
can make money at an 8 share," she said in an
interview "You can imagine what the prize is at
a 10-1/2 share."
commercial, called "Clutch Time," uses elements
of graphic novels and action movies to catch the
attention of the 18- to 30-year-old male crowd.
"These are guys who have no attention span whatsoever,"
Lem said. So the ad uses live action on top of
an animated backdrop to help make an impact, she
commercial, the first of two West directed for
Unilever, the hero, in a scene reminiscent of
the "Mission Impossible" or "Entrapment" movies,
has to defeat several security devices to steal
a painting, all the while receiving instructions
from a female accomplice via a headset. To defeat
a heat-sensing alarm in the floor, the hero actually
rubs Degree on his feet. Degree's technology is
activated by body heat, giving extra protection
when the temperature rises.
is the latest company to ask a big-screen director
to try to get its message across in a small screen
commercial. Most recently, retailer Kmart Corp.
(KM) said Spike Lee would direct a series of commercials.
Lem said West approached Unilever to do the commercials
when the company started looking for a Hollywood
West may not have the marquee value of Lee or
some other directors who have done commercials,
he had experience with the action-packed movie
style Unilever was trying to emulate, Lem said.
The commercials will begin airing Monday on MTV
and Comedy Central, among other networks. A print
campaign will also run in men's magazines like
FHM and Maxim, as well as Rolling Stone, Spin