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Tag . . . you’re not it!

P&G drops male body spray to focus on its global brands

(Globe Staff Digital Illustration)
By Jenn Abelson
Globe Staff / October 27, 2010

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The gaggles of women tackling Tag-wearing teens have disappeared.

That’s because Procter & Gamble Co. is eliminating the Tag line of male body sprays it rolled out five years ago to compete with front-runner Axe. Tag was the second attempt by Gillette, acquired by P&G in 2005, at capturing a whiff of the teen market after the failed launch of a Right Guard body spray in 2002.

“The decision to discontinue Tag is really to focus our investment on growing our largest and most global antiperspirant and deodorant brands — Old Spice, Gillette, and Secret,’’ said Mike Norton, a P&G spokesman.

It’s a change in strategy for the business. Tag was designed as a separate brand that, on the face of it, had no association with Gillette.

The splashy marketing emulated Axe by featuring advertisements with throngs of women attacking young men scented with Tag.

When it launched, Tag began competing against P&G’s Old Spice Red Zone, the second-best-selling men’s body spray. But over the years, Axe has by far dominated the men’s deodorant spray market, according to Euromonitor International.

“I never really saw as much support for Tag as I saw for Axe. Love it or hate it, Axe is everywhere,’’ said Rob Callender of Teenage Research Unlimited. “Even if comics are making fun of Jersey Shore kids wearing Axe, at least they’re talking about Axe. And I don’t think I heard anyone talking about Tag.’’

Mike Dwyer, a marketing director at Unilever, which manufactures Axe, said: “Axe created the body spray category in 2002 and has lead the way ever since. Today, Axe is the number one male grooming brand in the US — exclusive of razors, which we don’t offer — and continues to lead the body spray market.’’

Some retail analysts said the shrinking deodorant spray market makes it less appealing for companies like P&G to have several smaller brands. Euromonitor’s report shows the market consistently declining from a high of $424.7 million in 2006 to $388 million 2009 (men’s deodorant and men’s grooming, however, increased slightly).

In 2009, Axe had 36.7 percent of the market, Old Spice took 23.5 percent, and Tag trailed with a 9.9 percent share.

Callender said P&G’s focus on Old Spice for body sprays makes sense with the reinvigorated Old Spice brand.

“Old Spice is doing phenomenal among this market. Teen guys and twentysomething guys both named the Old Spice commercials as some of their favorites,’’ Callender said. “They never really gave much thought to Old Spice several years ago. They considered it something for their grandparents.’’

Procter & Gamble stopped shipping Tag products in June and inventory on the shelf will not be replenished. The handful of employees working on Tag are now employed in other positions at P&G, according to Norton.

The Tag team had moved from Boston to Cincinnati in 2007 as part of the company’s reorganization.

The Andover plant that manufactures Tag and other aerosol products will continue operating with a number of other P&G lines.

Jenn Abelson can be reached at abelson@globe.com.