Comeback brands: new owner to revive Beecham names

As the ad industry bemoans the disappearance of brand loyalty, one or more agencies will get the chance to revive well-known, but neglected brands–Brylcreem, Aqua Velva and Lectric Shave. And, in a time when many marketers revert to bygone campaigns, those shops might find themselves resurrecting those brands’ legendary ad slogans to drive the relaunch.
“There’s a franchise there that even neglect couldn’t (destroy),” said Dominick LaRosa, president/ceo of J.B. Williams Co., a division of Beecham Products that was recently sold to Brynwood Partners, an investment group. LaRosa said consumer research shows “aided awareness for all those brands is in the high 80% (range).”
J.B. Williams will spend upwards of $8 million in the first year but has not yet selected an agency to handle the advertising. “No decision has been made yet,” said LaRosa.
He added that the line “A little dab’ll do ya,” for Brylcreem hair cream, might make a comeback in the U.S. The line gained popularity in the 1950s during the product’s heyday and has remained on packaging.
“There’s equity in advertising,” said LaRosa. “It’s amazing. Brylcreem hasn’t been advertised in any meaningful way since the early 1980s and yet ad recall for ‘A little dab’ll do ya’ is very high.”
Another well-recognized line, “There’s something about an Aqua Velva man,” for the after-shave product might also be revived, said LaRosa, a former Mennen executive.
Under Beecham ownership, Avrett, Free & Ginsberg was the agency for Brylcreem and Aqua Velva while Ogilvy & Mather last handled Lectric Shave.
LaRosa said J.B. Williams first needs to shore up distribution. Then the products will be restaged, reformulated and relaunched. “We want to hit the ground running in the fourth quarter,” he said.
J.B. Williams also is in the process of hiring a vp/marketing and vp/sales to aid the relaunch.
LaRosa and the new J.B. Williams team isn’t the first to try to rejuvenate these products. Beecham in 1986 broke TV spots for Brylcreem in the U.K., via Grey, to capitalize on fashion trends combining nostalgia and wet-hair looks.
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)