Sports B.O. Is The Sweet Smell Of Success

Madison Avenue often talks tough but, just as often, fails to walk the walk. But when you see former football players, all-star baseball and basketball players and other confirmed macho men involved, it's time to take notice.

The men's grooming category has long been dominated by shaving cream and razor blades. But Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Beiersdorf, Dial and other major players on the health and grooming landscape have devoted time, energy, dollars and marketing to convince men that even tough guys need to pay attention to their hair and skin.

And men are paying attention: The global market for men's grooming products is projected to exceed $33.2 billion by 2015, according to a recent study from Global Industry Analysts (GIA), San Jose, Calif. Meanwhile, Packaged Facts of Rockville, Md., said the U.S. market was $19.7 billion in 2009 and estimates it will grow to $28 billion by 2014.

According to GIA, the growth is "primarily driven by a rapid rise of the metrosexual male, innovative appealing products, growing middle class population, increased Internet connectivity and universality of prestige across the world."

But here's what is also pulling in men who otherwise would walk past the grooming aisle: Michael Strahan, who played for 14 seasons with the NFL's New York Giants, is the spokesman for Unilever's Vaseline Men; former pro football players are featured in marketing for P&G's Old Spice men's products; Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees, tennis star Roger Federer and international soccer star Thierry Henry are the marketing faces and bodies for P&G's Gillette; Dial's Right Guard gets sweaty with NBA all-star Chris Paul; and Beiersdorf's Nivea has aligned with the Association of Volleyball Professionals and the English and German national soccer teams, ensuring the brand's presence at the 2012 Summer Olympics and the upcoming 2010 FIFA World Cup.

"We know there are a lot of athletes who shave their bodies," Nicolas Maurer, vp of marketing, Beiersdorf, which is activating in volleyball and soccer behind its Nivea Active 3 line of men's body washes, shampoos and skin cleansers. "If you look at beach volleyball, obviously there are men and women showing a lot of skin, and skin that is well taken care of. It's a very energetic lifestyle." In addition to macho images, men's grooming brands are also talking tough to hook men. "Smell like a man, man" and "You have man-sized odor hanging all over you," Old Spice offers in commercials for its Odor Shield and Odor Blocker body washes.

Terry Crews, an ex-NFL player turned actor, does the best job of kicking butt in a current series of ads from Wieden + Kennedy, Portland. "Old Spice Odor Blocker body wash is so powerful, it can block odor for 16 hours," he yells, flexing his muscles in the shower. He then bursts through a wall, "kicks down" a building and sets off an explosion, proclaiming, "Odor Blocker body wash is too powerful to let this commercial end!"

See you in the men's grooming aisle.

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