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P&G Plays up Refresh Shampoo to Hispanic Teens

Procter & Gamble Co. is tapping the Internet to promote its Head & Shoulders Refresh anti-dandruff shampoo to Hispanic teens through a flake-fighting crusader.

A new Spanish-language game site, www.missionrefresh.com, shows Capitan Cool and his fight to eliminate dandruff through a hair forest using a bubble machine and bottles of Head & Shoulder Refresh.

“We look at it as a means of interactive branding,” said Anastasia Kitsul, interactive marketing manager at P&G in San Juan, Puerto Rico. “So, at the end of the day, I hope that a teen that had played the game goes away thinking of Head & Shoulders Refresh as a fun product to use.”

Fusion Networks, Miami, created the interactive game on a stand-alone site after a successful pilot run on Spanish-language sites Yupi.com and Terra.com.

“Dandruff is a taboo and a very uncomfortable subject at that age and uncool, and Procter & Gamble wanted to make it something that you can turn around and be fun and [have] the solution be fun,” said Matt Rosenberg, director of corporate communications at Fusion.

The game asks online visitors to aid Capitan Cool against the “Evil Empire of Dandruff” through levels of increasing difficulty. The goal is to capture and eradicate menacing dandruff flakes using the bubble machine and the “Refresh Wave” of Head & Shoulders.

Once the dandruff flakes float away in bubbles from Capitan Cool's bubble machine, another round of flakes appears to take their place. This is meant to point out a reality that dandruff sufferers face.

“You've effectively communicated the fact that you can't win, but you can control and keep trying,” Rosenberg said. “Then you brand [Head & Shoulders Refresh] within the mind of the Hispanic consumer.”

A built-in ability to e-mail a copy of the game is intended to add a viral component.

The Mission Refresh Internet effort falls under the auspices of the multicultural business development organization at P&G, handled out of its San Juan office. Kitsul manages interactive marketing there.

According to research conducted by the Cultural Access Group, Los Altos, CA, U.S. Hispanics age 13 to 17 are the most frequent users of the Internet in the Hispanic community.

But “the U.S. Hispanic community, in general, is an underserved group of people, with access to capital, with pretty decent ability to spend discretionary dollars, and I guess that's the market that's being served by Procter & Gamble,” said Gary M. Goldfarb, president/CEO of Fusion.

As the largest-selling dandruff-control shampoo brand nationwide, Head & Shoulders commands an estimated 10 percent market share in dollar terms. It is available in the Normal, 2in1 Fine & Oily, Refresh, Dry Scalp and Intensive Treatment varieties.

Launched two years ago, Refresh is targeted at youth. The product contains menthol, which gives off a tingling sensation when the hair is shampooed.

By targeting teens, P&G is using a time-tested tactic in branding exercises: Catch consumers while they are young.

“On the teens specifically, it's an important market for us,” Kitsul said, “because this is a point when a person becomes aware that they may have a dandruff issue and this is a point when many teens develop loyalty to products.

“So it's natural for Head & Shoulders to focus on teens, and the medium matches very well [with] the objective,” she said.

P&G introduced the Mission Refresh site after getting encouraging feedback from Hispanic teens who played the same game at the Yupi and Terra Web sites.

The Cincinnati company found that more than a third of games played were repeat sessions. Users forwarded the games more than 5,000 times via e-mail to friends and family.

Now, Kitsul said P&G is talking to other Hispanic-focused sites to place the interactive game.

“The idea is to expand placement to Hispanic portals,” Kitsul said, declining to name sites under consideration.

“We've shared the game with our general marketing counterparts [at P&G],” she added, “and it's been shared with our global Head & Shoulders team. So it's generated interest from other parts of the company.”

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