Alberto VO5 Appeals To Youth Through 'Extreme Style'

Alberto VO5 is not a new brand, but the division of Alberto-Culver is attempting to reach younger male and female consumers with a sub-brand, "Extreme Style by VO5." The hair-care line includes Weightless Volumizing Mousse, Curvaceous Curls Volumizing Mousse, Max Hold Hairspray, Volume Blast Styling Spray, Ultimate Hold Power Gel and Reworkable Putty.

The brand is a division of Chicago-based Alberto-Culver, which also owns such beauty and hair-care brands as TRESemme hair care, Nexxus and St. Ives Swiss Formula.

The effort is supported by a multimillion-dollar repositioning that says it's okay--at least for Gens X and Y--to do whatever it takes to stand out, get noticed and have fun.

The effort includes new packaging, print and TV advertising, sponsorships and a celebrity stylist. And a big chunk of the campaign is online at VO5.com, which has been redesigned with a jagged urban-hip, red-on-black theme and loaded up with video content and a social networking game.

The site features things like an online virtual salon where people can try different hairstyles out on uploaded photos of themselves. There is also a game called Ultimate Flirting Championship--a social networking site where one can create an attractive avatar and flirt, virtually.

Other youth efforts include sponsorship of a MySpace Concert Tour and VH1's "America's Most Smartest Model," of which VO5 is official hairstyling partner. The reality show has 14 models shacking up together to see which has enough grey matter to correct the show's title, for a shot at the "Extreme Style by VO5" grand prize of $100,000.

A 30-second TV spot via Chicago-based Element 79 Partners will run cable channels like MTV, VH1 and FUSE, through December. The ad shows a young woman who styles her hair with VO5 attracting a young guy next door. The two end up not under the boardwalk, but up on the roof. Print ads via EVB follow the theme.

Lynn Dornblaser, senior new product analyst at Chicago-based Mintel, says VO5 is making a savvy move by creating a brash sub-brand that still keeps the VO5 name on the packaging in a subordinate role.

"What we tend to see with younger consumers is they are more open to experimentation and products that provide extreme styling," she says. "I have to say that it's very clever what they have done because the packaging is very unique, the VO5 logo is quite small and it focuses on extreme style."

"To me, it's such a smart way for [Alberto VO5] to appeal to a whole different market by doing a relatively simple modification to the existing line."

She notes that other brands, like Suave and Dippity-Do, have successfully shifted younger. "Herbal Essences stands out as a brand that has reinvented itself. They were very big in the 70s, went out of favor and have now restaged. It is doing quite well."

Why should Alberto VO5 leave the VO5 name on "Extreme Style" at all? "One reason they would want to leave VO5 name on it is that those younger consumers will get older, and they will remember it when they go to switch to something else. And that's a smart way to go about it."

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