Gillette Hopes First DM Campaign for Women Will Give It an Edge

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For the first time, The Gillette Co., Boston, will use direct mail of product samples as part of its marketing program for its women's products.

One million female shaving product sampling kits are being mailed as part of an integrated media campaign that unites all of the company's female shaving products under the name Gillette for Women. The campaign, which debuted this week, will include television commercials and magazine ads.

Most of the 1 million sampling kits sent through the mail include the company's Sensor refillable razor. The kits are intended to encourage disposable razor users to switch to the SensorExcel, and they will be sent to women in Columbus, OH; Houston; Phoenix; and St. Louis -- cities that have high percentages of women who use disposable razors, according to the A.C. Nielsen Co., said Jill Avery, product manager.

A small amount will be sent to high schools in 10 cities across the country and distributed to teen-age girls in homeroom, Avery said.

Although Gillette has mailed product samples to men for several years, notably through a birthday program that congratulates them with a shaving kit when they turn 18, the company has never before conducted a wide-scale mailing to women.

"Product sampling is the trial system to get customers accustomed to the brand," Avery said.

The company conducted a small test mailing of Gillette Sensors to women in Baltimore last year.

"We saw a significant bump in cartridge sales immediately, so women were using the product and buying replacement cartridges," Avery said.

Separately, the company will send 700,000 mail pieces inviting women to receive a product sample from the company.

"It gets women to raise their hands," Avery said. "It's an extra step to the process, but it allows us to send more of them."

The campaign's television commercials, featuring the tag line "Gillette for Women. Are you ready?" followed by "Yes, I am," debuted May 4 and was scheduled to air during Fox's "Party of Five," "The X-Files" and the final episode of "Beverly Hills 90201," as well as during syndicated showings of "Seinfeld" and "The Rosie O'Donnell Show."

Print ads show women preparing for a night on the town, a new job or a day at the beach. The teen ad states, "It's 80 degrees in the shade. You've got the raft. The towel. And a teeny-weeny bikini. But are you ready?" Print advertising will appear in magazines such as Seventeen, YM, Vogue, Shape and In Style.

Campaigns for women's shaving products typically are launched in the spring because use of these products picks up in the summer.

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