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“Betrayed” Vidal Sassoon Sues P&G

News, 02 April 2003


Hairdressing legend Vidal Sassoon is suing Procter & Gamble for allegedly destroying the haircare brand that bears his name.

Sassoon has filed a federal suit in a Los Angeles court, saying he felt “betrayed” by P&G, which acquired the brand when buying Richardson-Vicks in 1985.

“I trusted one of the most powerful marketing machines when they assured me that my name represented a billion-dollar brand,” he declared. “Instead, they systematically decimated my brand.”

Sassoon alleges that P&G steadily reduced marketing support for the range, building up rival brands in its portfolio – such as Pantene, now the world’s number one haircare range – for which the consumer goods colossus does not have to pay royalties.

Continued the coiffeur: “P&G consistently … squandered the hard-earned equity of the Sassoon name, compromised the value of the brand, and promoted other hair care products … at the direct expense of Sassoon's brand image and value.

“[It] systematically destroyed what took a lifetime of passionate and single-minded dedication to build, leaving a heritage in shambles by withdrawing the big budget media and sophisticated marketing promised by P&G.”

According to ad tracking service CMR, US spending on the brand dropped from $34 million (€31m; £22m) in 1998 to $26m in 2000 to $11m in 2001 to just $90,000 last year. In January, P&G announced it was dropping the brand, citing poor sales.

The lawsuit demands undisclosed damages plus the nullification of Sassoon’s contract with P&G.

Data sourced from: multiple sources; additional content by WARC staff