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Bye Bye Clairol & Wella

Walking by the executive mailbox slots, overhead one can see four beautiful handmade glass vases designed by a very talented artist. They were gifts from Clairol for buying more than $1 Million in a year.

I remember way back in 1996 after buying Beauty Direct that we had to have Clairol & Wella products. Back then, tube color was gaining popularity but beauty schools and many hairdressers still preferred the ubiquitous liquid products mostly because of price, availability, and that's what they were used to.

Paula Jacobi, then President of Clairol (ex-VP of Creative Nail Design so I knew her well) gave us two thumbs up and we cranked out 6-packs of color and tubs of BW2.

Fast forward ten years and liquid color continues its decline and eventually will be in the history books. Retail technology and upgraded beauty schools are the main culprits. But we can also blame one of the most innovative companies in the world: Procter & Gamble.

They bought Wella long ago but really never figured out what to do with it. Then they bought Clairol mostly for its retail presence and one day someone told them they also owned Miss Clairol, Jazzing and some bleach products called Basic White and BW2. In a company that doesn't revere a brand unless it does over a $1 Billion a year in sales, this was like a pimple on a donkey's ass.

Declining sales and loss of interest is one thing but that was not the ultimate decision breaker that led  us to drop both brands. The ultimate decision breaker is P&G's CEO that continues to attack our industry with ads that claim their retail products are superior to salon products. For a company that also owns Sebastian, this is a dangerous road to travel. But I guess when you are mighty P&G, you can travel any damn road you want.

Their Pantene brand does over $3 Billion a year. Yes, you read that right. $3 Billion a year. Matrix who claims to be the industry leader doesn't even do $300 Million. In their most recent Pantene ad in just about every fashion and beauty magazine P&G can find to place it, the headline is "Think only a salon brand can go to these lengths?"

With economic times even tough for P&G, A.G. Laffley, their CEO has even been quoted telling analysts that they are thrilled to be in mass market (drug, discount, supermarket) business because that's where consumers are shopping these days. Olay is a $2 Billion brand, so what do you think they care about Miss Clairol which most likely does 75% of its business in Sally's?

Oh well. We will miss the history of the brands like we miss the history of most brands. Luckily, we still have four beautiful vases to remind us of the great history that once was.

Happy Wednesday!


Adam Harris was born in coal country, right in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains. His father, Gregory, worked the mines every day and came home to his best friend, Jim Beam. Gregory had many frie


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