The launch of two new shampoo brands is set to pit Anglo-Dutch fmcg giant Unilever against French cosmetics group L’Oréal in a battle to win Americans’ hearts and heads.

Unilever this week begins a $110 million (€102m; £67m) stateside campaign for Dove shampoo and conditioner lines. It has successfully extended the Dove brand into this sector in Europe and has now imported the format into the US.

However, it faces stiff competition in L’Oréal’s Fructis shampoo, another regular on European shelves, also being launched coast-to-coast. The French firm has not disclosed how much it is spending, but boasts this is the biggest roll-out in the company’s history.

Both firms have high hopes. Unilever – which also makes Suave, America’s second-largest shampoo after market leader Pantene – believes Dove can carve a 10% share of the $1.8 billion sector within five years.

L’Oréal is even more ambitious: “We expect [Fructis] to have 5% of the market in the first year and I'd be surprised if we didn't have 10% within three years,” declared Joe Campinell, president of L'Oreal's American consumer products arm.

Unilever’s advertising – created by Ogilvy & Mather – builds on existing consumer awareness of Dove soap and other lines, targeting women aged 18 to 49.

In contrast, Fructis (handled by Publicis) is going after men and women, aiming for a more irreverent image to win younger consumers.

Data sourced from: The Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff