Combe Breaks First Hispanic Campaign

LOS ANGELES Combe turned to an outside agency to reach the U.S. Hispanic market in a two-spot, $4 million Just for Men campaign that broke last week in five markets. The TV commercials are the first domestic ads in the Spanish language for the product.

“We’ve been working with Combe for a year now on research and brand positioning,” said Jaime Ramirez, vice president and director of client services at La Agencia de Orci, Los Angeles.” Combe saw an opportunity for growth in their hair-care products based on their experience of selling in places like Latin America.”

In one 30-second spot (“Tango”), a graying Latino looks into a mirror with dismay, uses Just for Men in the shower, and then emerges to the approving gaze of his significant female other, who rips off his towel beyond camera view. In the other 30-second ad (“Mozart”), a Latino man is perceived as old-fashioned by his family, appearing to them in period costume on his way to work. He uses Just for Men to the admiration of all, with the focus of attention on his teenaged daughter. Both spots employ a computer-animated segment showing how the product penetrates gray follicles without coloring non-gray hair.

“Our research concerned the attitudes, perceptions, fears and barriers to using the product,” said Ramirez. “The concept started with the mirror. Men weren’t feeling necessarily antiquated, but telling us they didn’t look as good as they feel, but younger and stronger.”

“It is unusual for us to go outside our internal marketing department,” said Michael Wendroff, vice president of men’s personal care products at Combe, White Plains, N.Y. “We looked to a Latino agency for insight into that marketplace. Our biggest problem is not the competition—the company itself has 85 percent of the market—but poor knowledge of the category.”

Ramirez said the diverse domestic Hispanic population makes finding everyman Latinos difficult. “We certainly wanted a family that looked like a family,” he said, as opposed to representing different ethnicities. “You will identify with the man not because of the accent he speaks, which is a pan-Hispanic Spanish, the equivalent of Walter Cronkite in Spanish, but because of the situation he’s in. We’re looking at a target that is very middle class, with aspirations, with a sense of pride in the family.”

The spots will eventually air in Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Phoenix and San Francisco. Combe spent $24 million through November last year advertising Just for Men, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.