Playtex appoints Publicis to £7m Wonderbra revival task

Lingerie manufacturer Playtex has appointed Publicis to spearhead the estimated &£7m European revival of its iconic Wonderbra range. The agency will also oversee the launch of a new range of the brand, called Hi Contour.

The Paris office of the agency will manage Sara Lee-owned Playtex’s underwear account across Europe, although other network offices will handle some of the business. Incumbent Euro RSCG declined to repitch for the business when the account was put up for review (MW January 13).

Playtex marketing director Hervé Bailly says that he wants to reinvigorate Wonderbra and position it as a brand known for more than “just cleavage.” He admits that the brand’s marketing has been under-funded in recent years.

Bailly says that the brand is still well-loved, but adds that many women no longer regarded it as a must-have item. He plans for Wonderbra to have a 20 per cent market share in 2006. Between &£2m and &£3m will be ploughed into the brand, aimed at 25- to 35-year-olds, in the UK alone, with campaigns breaking in October and just before Christmas. Above-the-line spend for the 12 months to March this year totalled just &£230,000 in the UK.

Hi Contour will focus on creating a soft, rounded silhouette and follows the Deep Plunge range introduced last year as part of the company’s attempts to broaden customer appeal by offering a range of shapes and styles (MW August 5, 2004). Existing bras will fall under the Cleavage and Uplift ranges.

“If you expect Wonderbra to be a sexy brand you have to cover all aspects of sexiness. In recent years we have been just a ‘cleavage’ brand,” explains Bailly.

Publicis will also create a campaign for the Playtex brand to break in early 2006. It will be the first time advertising has focused on the brand rather than individual products.

Euro RSCG handled the Playtex business for seven years. Previously it had been split between Saatchi & Saatchi and the TBWA network, which introduced the famous “Hello boys” strapline that turned Eva Herzigova into a supermodel when it was launched in 1994. Playtex was founded in 1921 and launched its UK subsidiary in 1955.

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