Brut is expanding its youth-centered marketing position that began with last year's brutslap.com, an interactive site that let users "slap" obnoxious people with different objects as a way to evoke the way guys are supposed to apply Brut with a face slap.
It was the brand's first campaign in three years and its first multi-tier national campaign in more than a decade.
The next program is a humorous news channel for men, the Brut News Network (BNN) at facebook.com/Brut. The new site features original video content with a sports focus.
The campaign, via Oradell, N.J.-based Sigma, includes Internet videos and commentary on topics and discussions from sports talk radio host Jim Rome via cameo appearances. The two BNN hosts are Bob and Ned -- two "Jackass" types who, in addition to sports, show videos of things like Parkour, extreme sports fails, and office pranks.
"We believe that young, male-focused online content is a burgeoning market," says Marc Broccoli, marketing director at Brut parent Idelle Management Co., a division of Helen of Troy, Ltd., which acquired Brut in 2003 from Unilever's Conopco division. "BNN offers us a way to engage with a young male demographic that is important to our brand by allowing them to connect through a creative, humorous digital media platform."
In Brut's heyday, spokespeople included the likes of Joe Namath, Muhammad Ali and Jimmy Connors, with the tag "The Essence of Man."
So where does Brut stand in the aftershave pantheon? A November segment report from Chicago-based Mintel found that 7% of 18- to-24-year-olds among a base of 5,676 adult men ages 18 and over used Brut in the preceding 12 months. Four percent of those between 25 and 34 years of age used the brand. At 8% of the entire base of consumers in the study, Brut was behind Old Spice, Axe and Gillette, in descending order -- but above a roster of brands like Calvin Klein, Adidas, Aqua Velva, Ralph Lauren, Stetson and Avon.
Mintel blames the sluggish 1.4% growth in male grooming products overall between 2009 and last year on the down economy, high levels of unemployment, and decreasing household income levels, but also apathy among men toward grooming products, "as some men buy unisex products or pay little attention to the grooming products they use," the firm says.
Aftershave took a hit, Mintel said in a segment report last fall, because consumers were eschewing products that they saw as unnecessary, especially because many shaving lotions now feature moisturizers that soothe skin post-shave. Also impinging on shaving lotions were scented body sprays such as Axe.
The firm says its studies suggest makers of aftershave products focus on sampling programs, as most reported being most inclined to buy new grooming products if they are offered a free sample or if the item is on sale, "rather than because of recommendations from others, advertisements, or celebrity endorsements."
More than half of men who buy grooming products say that all products work the same, and half report paying little attention to the products they use, per Mintel. "This degree of apathy and inattention represents the primary challenge marketers have in attracting new users or encouraging product repertoire expansion," said the study.