Branding success Featured

7:38am EDT June 27, 2005

Alberto V05 today is one of the top beauty products on the market, and its maker, Alberto-Culver Co., is an industry giant.

But when Leonard Lavin bought Alberto-Culver Co. in 1955, V05 was the best product of the regional manufacturer of professional beauty supplies. The product was good, but there was plenty of room for growth.

Lavin discontinued all the other products and built the company around Alberto V05.

In the competitive consumer products arena, Lavin faced huge, well-established companies, such as Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson and Colgate Palmolive. He believed that in the competitive consumer products industry, if you continue to innovate, consumers will respond.

Lavin searched markets outside the United States for products that would appeal to consumers here. He hired innovative marketing and technical researchers and challenged them to set new standards.

Early on, Lavin recognized that television had the power to give a brand name a chance to compete against the giants. He was among the first packaged goods marketers to use television to build a national brand. He bought initial sponsorships in some of television's pioneering shows such as, "What's My Line" and "The Smothers Brothers Show."

Lavin fought through the courts to become the first advertiser to win the right to use 30-second commercials rather than the one-minute industry standard spot. He later won the right to air 15-second commercials. Those legal victories changed the face of television for advertisers, consumers and the networks.

Television propelled the Alberto-Culver Co. to new successes and has helped keep Alberto V05 in the No. 1 spot 50 years later. Today, Alberto-Culver manufacturers, distributes and markets leading personal care products including St. Ives and TRESemme in the United States and internationally. Its Pro-Line International unit is the second-largest producer in the world of ethnic hair care products.