Welcome to The Himmel Group
had been the marketers of Ovaltine in the United States from August 1, 1992 until May 15, 2007, and were,
up until 1996, the owners of Gold Bond Medicated Powder.
Our passion is to build brand equity.
The key has always been our belief in the role of advertising
to build brand equity, either to revitalize old trademarks
or by creating new ones.
The cornerstone of our marketing strategy has always been
the belief that:
When it comes to brand awareness and advertising, we never
forget the old adage: “Out of sight, out of mind.”
So always be in front of the consumer.
- There is a direct correlation between
the level of advertising spending and market share, consumer
loyalty, the ability to resist price competition and leverage
with the trade. It is a belief in advertising, non-stop,
52 weeks/year, without flighting. Over the last 46 years,
every brand we have ever owned has been advertised 365
days a year!
It is also a belief that brand equity is a company’s
most valuable asset, and that even small brands that appear
ready for the graveyard can have staying power that can
be leveraged in ways that may not be totally obvious from
their low sales level.
Vertically-integrated in advertising and media functions
As advertising plays such a critically important role in
building brand equity, we have always been vertically-integrated
in the advertising and media functions, and handled that
part of the business on our own (writers, producers, media
buying). That’s how we are able to achieve efficiencies
in media buying, our own know-how for media planning, our
own ability to keep production costs down so there’s
more money available for the media buy!
The problem with the outside advertising agencies is that
they push television commercials, the most expensive media
day-parts, extremely high production costs, directors’
fees, creative and talent fees. The average cost of a 30
second national television commercial is in excess of $360,000
(according to the American Association of Advertising Agencies).
During the five years we owned Gold Bond, our average cost
of a television and radio commercial including the buy-out
of talent was under $5,000!
This can only be accomplished when you have the resources
and know-how in house to handle all of the advertising and
In our experience, the message is clear: Brand equity is
a valuable asset, and advertising is the key ingredient
in building brand equity. For the most important part of
our business, we want complete control and have never been
comfortable outsourcing this most important strategic area
of the business.
Revitalizing Old Brands
Over the last 46 years, spanning 2 generations, we have
acquired old, but well-known trademarks that were mistaken
for dead, and revitalized them, and taken what we saw as
big ideas, and built them into successful brands, and then
There are always old brand names that have withstood the
test of time, and bring a lot to the table, such as brand
equity, consumer awareness and trust, existing distribution
in the marketplace, and a low level of sales, all of which
are extremely leverageable once advertising starts, assuming
the product has a point of difference which is relevant
and meaningful to the consumer. This was the case with most
of the brands which we have revitalized.
The problem, and our opportunity, is that these brands that
are fading are often perceived as dead. But in reality it
may be nothing more than neglect, or because it is non-core.
Add to that declining levels of sales and awareness, and
marketing executives are quick to write off the brand, milk
it, and convince themselves that the brand is at the end
of its product life cycle. And then they never get to see
a dormant brand’s untapped potential.
Examples of small brands we have revitalized are Doan’s
Pills for Backache Pain, Cuticura Soap, Bromo Seltzer, Ovaltine
and Lavoris Mouthwash.
These are all brands which enjoyed a rich heritage, excellent
brand awareness, that had withstood the test of time (from
80 - 120 years old), had existing distribution in the marketplace,
and the only reason they were small when we acquired them
was that they had small marketing budgets behind them.
Much larger $70-$80 million brands like Scope and Listerine
had awareness levels that were no better than Lavoris with
$3.5 million in sales.
The $80 - $100 million brands like Mylanta, Tums or Pepto
Bismol had awareness levels no better than Bromo Seltzer
with only $1 million in sales when we acquired them.
The lesson is that the value of a brand’s equity is
not determined solely by its current brand sales.
Doan’s Pills for Backache Pain
Advertising can even make a parity product superior -- and
premium-priced, as was the case with Doan’s Pills
for Backache Pain, which we acquired in 1981.
Doan’s Pills is a pain reliever positioned for backache.
The active ingredient, magnesium salicylate, is no more
or less effective at relieving backache than acetaminophen
or aspirin. However, heavy investments in advertising, 52
weeks a year, with real, believable consumers testifying
in ads as to the relief they derived from Doan’s,
and a claim that Doan’s contains a unique ingredient,
not found in any of the leading brands, was enough to be
successful, particularly given the fact that no one else
was telling the story. And during the entire period that
we owned Doan’s, from 1981 until 1986, we were the
largest advertiser in the category of backache pain relievers.
We paid $0 for our rights when the sales were less than
$2 million, and built Doan’s to a sales level of $13
million in 1986. We then sold the brand to Ciba-Geigy (as
part of the sale to The Dep Corporation) for $35 million
Building New Brands
The alternative to investing in old brand names or well-established
brands is new product development, but this is costly and
risky. Marketers can typically spend from $50MM to
$100MM to launch a new product, and more than 80% of all
new products fail.
The Himmel Group has also developed and built its own brands.
Examples of three products we created were Compoz, Topol
Smokers’ Toothpolish and Porcelana Medicated Fade
Cream. Gold Bond Medicated Powder is another similar example.
We didn’t develop it; however, it had heritage only
in New England. Everywhere else in the United States, it
was an unknown…until we built it.
There used to be a joke with us, that we would create diseases
and then, in our products, create the solution.
The first disease we created was in 1960, called Simple
Nervous Tension, and with the problem, the solution, Compoz,
C-O-M-P-O-Z, and today, 45 years later, people still recall
the slogan “Headache, take aspirin, simple nervous
tension, take Compoz, C-O-M-P-O-Z.
Topol Smokers’ Toothpolish was originally brought
to us by an advertising agency, Schaller Rubin, as an upside
down bottle of liquid toothpolish. There were no sales at
the time. My father paid $300,000 for the trademark, and
remembering an old print ad from 30 years earlier of how
if you blew smoke through a handkerchief, it turned yellow,
saw a whole unique positioning, a whole new category - Smokers’
Toothpolishes. And Topol Smokers’ Toothpolish was
built from nothing to sales of $34MM by 1984.
Porcelana was created based on a television commercial in
Mexico for Camay Soap which stated that the soap made one’s
skin clean like Porcelain, como Porcelana. It was built
from sales of $0 to $14MM.
Gold Bond Medicated Powder
In 1990, we bought Gold Bond from Block Drug Company for
$1 million, and built the brand from a regional brand with
sales of $1 mm in 1990 to $30 mm in 1995, to become the
leading medicated powder in the U.S. Block sold the brand
as it was a small brand. In our view, it wasn’t small;
it merely had a small budget.
The brand was developed by The Rhode Island Medical Association
in 1898, had a unique formula, and did more than ordinary
powders which merely absorbed moisture. Gold Bond was a
medicine, it contained special skin protectants to soothe
and dry the skin, and menthol to relieve itch. In fact,
Gold Bond had flat out scientific superiority. Moreover,
it was unique in a category which barely existed, which
wasn’t being promoted. So our advertising messages
stood out in the market. We used real people testimonials
and their messages struck a chord with other consumers.
Within 30 days of our acquisition, Gold Bond was introduced
nationally and advertised on network radio and television.
Heavy investments in advertising began to drive consumer
awareness and sales, and made Gold Bond the leading medicated
powder in the U.S., surpassing Ammens Powder as number 1.
In July 1992, we introduced Baby Gold Bond to treat and
prevent diaper rash, and in October 1993, we introduced
Extra Strength Gold Bond Medicated Powder which contained
in excess of four times the medicine as Regular Gold Bond,
and Gold Bond Medicated Anti-Itch Cream, which competed
in a category four times the size of the medicated powder
category. While most medicated creams were one percent hydrocortisone,
Gold Bond Medicated Cream was formulated to provide immediate
itch relief with a unique formula that then had clinical
superiority in providing itch relief over the leading brands
-- Cortizone 10, Benadryl, Lanacane and Cortaid.
Gold Bond Cream became the fastest growing cream in the
medicated cream category.
Gold Bond in 1996 was then sold to Chattem Inc. for $40
Whether we revitalize an existing brand, or build a new
one, which we are eager to do, it all gets down to this.
We better be able to differentiate ourselves or we die.
It’s that simple. The cornerstone of every brand is
its point of difference. And that’s where most companies
get in trouble. Their products fall down in the differentiation
This means having a unique selling proposition (USP), making
sure your product stands out. And if it doesn’t have
a USP, if the product is a commodity or “me-too”
product, our mission is to find some strong creative hook…
…Like we did with Doan’s Pills, and:
- Star-Kist did with ordinary tuna by creating
Charlie the Tuna,
- Oscar Meyer did with “I wish I
were an Oscar Meyer Wiener,”
- Wrigley’s did with “Double
your pleasure, double your fun”
- Eveready Battery sold batteries with
the Energizer Bunny
- Pillsbury sold assorted foods with the
- Pancake mixes and syrups were sold with
- Kellogg’s sold sugar-frosted cereal
flakes with Tony the Tiger
The examples are endless!
To build strong brand identity requires a single-minded vision
and regular and consistent advertising…advertising that
provides strong brand identification! To recall an ad is one
thing, but the product, that’s another.
Our advertising needs multiple product mentions and a product
shot! We have to make a meaningful promise, and we must repeat
the key benefit. Our advertising has to strike a responsive
chord with consumer. It has to answer for the consumer one
“WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME?”
how you strike a responsive chord with a consumer…talking to the consumers’ needs and wants!
And you have to answer this question easily and succinctly.
This means conveying only one selling point, and doing it
quickly, simply, and in a single-minded way. The key is
to tell them, be brief and be gone.
And that was always our mission…to communicate messages
which are meaningful to consumers, in the appropriate format
(such as demonstration-type commercials, like the Topol
handkerchief spot, which single-handedly built Topol into
the market leader, and problem-solution commercials, like
the Compoz, Doan’s Pills, and Gold Bond spots, with
testimonials, like the Gold Bond spots, and comparative
advertising, like we have with Ovaltine, Gold Bond Medicated Cream, and most of our brands.
And we are passionate about what we do.
To us, the only thing more beautiful than a good ad is an
excited consumer passionate about our products. And we spend
a lot of time with our consumers so we can learn about their
wants and needs, their likes and dislikes, why, when and how
they use our products, and what they want to see from us.
Our consumers guide us and lead the way to the future. Our
philosophy is living proof of the old adage, “If you
want to know how to sell a consumer, ask him!
What’s a good ad? It’s one with the facts. Facts,
It’s its most persuasive when it informs, not when it
entertains. It’s an ad that is long on salesmanship,
I am not out to have our consumers say, “That's a hell
of an ad!” I want them to say “that's a hell of
a product, I want one of those!”
We’re not out to win awards for the most beautiful or
glitzy commercial. It’s an ad that makes the cash register
ring! So we develop commercials that are believable, and in
that regard, no advertising format is more credible to a consumer
than the testimony of another consumer. We don’t use
actors and actresses in our commercials. They may not be the
most beautiful people in the world from Madison Avenue’s
point of view. But they tell it like it is!
And that’s how you develop personality for your brand.
When you have something important to say, you just say it!
You don’t try to be subtle or clever. If your competitor
has a weak spot, you hammer it…once, a second time,
a third time, over and over and over.
To do that the ad must offer a promise of a believable benefit.
It must be memorable. And it must grab the attention of the
viewer right up front! You see, you have only 2-3 seconds
to bond with your viewer or listener. Otherwise, they’re
I am sure you have all seen bad ads. What’s a bad ad?
It’s one that so abstract, you’d think the advertiser
is trying to conceal what they’re advertising. Over
last 20 years, ads have dispensed with the sales pitch, and
rather than talking to product quality, they offer a 15 or
30 second comedy routine. Why? Usually, it’s because
they have very little to say about the product!
Our view is simple. If you have something to say, SAY IT!
If you have an important point to make, don’t be subtle,
clever or funny!
Another problem with advertising is that more dollars are
wasted in advertising by under spending than by overspending.
Our whole philosophy is about investing heavily in advertising
so that we are always, everyday, top of mind with our consumer.
In order to do this, technically we need to have a dominant
share of advertising voice. This means outspending the competition
in advertising. It also means having frequency of advertising
messages so that our messages are heard all of the time. We
believe in frequency of advertising messages (more than reach).
Ideally for a brand of ours with an advertising budget of
$3-$4 million, which for most companies would be the equivalent
to a $15-$20 million budget, we aim for a frequency of advertising
messages of 10-15 times per month against our target audience.
This frequency, however, must be coupled with a dominant share
of advertising voice, or else the advertising messages may
not be significant enough to be heard and stand out. For example,
when we took over Ovaltine, we had an 11% SOM, but we were
outspending Nestle, the market leader with a 66% SOM, 2:1.
How does a company like ours do this if we are dealing with
small brands and relatively small advertising budgets?
We do it with in-house media buying to maximize cost efficiencies
and controlling commercial production costs by producing our
business, we live in state of paranoia. We are always look
over shoulders and running our business as though the competition
will hammer us hard in our weak spot…or that the competition
will offer our consumer a similar product for a penny cheaper.
In 1992, we entered into a long-term license with Sandoz Nutrition
to market Ovaltine in the U.S. and have taken the brand from
its then sales and market share of $11 mm and 11%, respectively,
to $38 mm and 30% in 2006. Nestle’s share of market
has decreased during this time frame from 66% to approximately
While Ovaltine was in a state of major decline in 1992 when
we took it over, we were able to jump-start the brand by tapping
into its equity and rekindling top of mind awareness. Ovaltine
had a rich heritage since 1904 as a great-tasting nutritious
milk flavoring. Plus it was in an under-advertised category.
So we could have a dominant share of advertising voice.
By heavily investing in advertising, always being the largest
advertiser not only in the category of milk powder additives,
but spending more on a measured media basis than the sum total
of all advertising spending in the three categories in which
Ovaltine competes—milk powder additives, chocolate syrups
and hot cocoas. In each year, we have outspent Nesquik, Hershey’s
Syrup, Swiss Miss Hot Cocoa and Nestle Hot Cocoa combined!
Ovaltine had a point of difference versus the competition
which was meaningful to moms, the gatekeepers for their children.
Ovaltine tasted good, plus it had vitamins and minerals, Nesquik
(formerly Nestle Quik) didn’t. All we had to do was
to convince moms that Ovaltine tasted as good as Quik, that
their kids would like the taste of Ovaltine as much as Quik,
not more, plus we had vitamins and minerals, Quik didn’t,
then we would hands down, every day of the week.
We were always committed to partnering with our retailers
by offering trade and consumer promotion programs, increasing
advertising spending, improving our creative advertising by
making it as meaningful to the consumer as possible, continuously
expanding and redefining new targets for Ovaltine to make
our market larger, and making our packaging as dynamic as
possible so that it stands out on the shelf.
On May 15, 2007, Himmel Nutrition sold its Ovaltine license to Novartis.
Joe Jimenez, the Chief Executive Officer of the Novartis Consumer Health Division, said,
"Himmel Nutrition Inc. has been our partner for almost 15 years and has demonstrated its skill in building small brands. They have taken Ovaltine from the inception of the license from a small, struggling brand into an important brand in its category."
Ovaltine in the USA is currently owned by Nestle.
We outsource to stay focused on marketing and to keep fixed
In order to keep fixed costs low, we contract out the manufacture
of our products and other services such as our medical experts,
research and development and other services. The only area
where we are vertically-integrated is in the advertising area.
Our line extension philosophy
Our line extension strategy for Gold Bond, for all of our
brands is extremely focused. We were always extremely thoughtful
to insure that line extensions fit in with the core strategy
and vision for the brand.
Oftentimes, when a company is so keen on growth, they desperately
line extend in every which direction, and do so with marginal
line extensions that tend to dilute rather than enhance brand
equity. And then without the proper advertising and marketing
support for each line extension, the brand identity becomes
blurred. Rather than treating each line extension as a separate
brand, companies engage in “line advertising,”
that is, promoting the whole line as if it were one target
consumer. And no individual product attributes are ever promoted.
The product identity begins to fade. The advertising becomes
invisible. And then the brand becomes managed as an annuity.
The brand identity becomes confusing to the retailer and to
the consumer. And then, the brand can sink into oblivion.
we do is not novel
What we do is nothing more than sticking to the basics, in
the same way
that Harley Procter, the co-founder of Procter & Gamble,
Soap in 1881. With a hefty ad budget then of $11,000, excellent
advertising and a slogan “Ivory Soap, the soap that
floats, and is 99.44%
pure,” Harley Procter pushed for scientific studies
to validate Ivory’s
purity, and when he ran out of ideas on how to sell consumers,
understood that the only way to figure out how to sell them,
was to ask
them, and he did. And that’s what we do.
We are always looking for brands which are unique, where we
have a story
to tell, so we can use our marketing know-how to tell the
story. If you
have such a brand, please let us know. Together we can build
it, and tell
the story over and over until we are number one.
If you are looking for a partner to help build a new product,
or an existing one, we can provide the strategic resources,
the marketing know-how and financial resources to fund 100%
of the capital required to build a successful franchise.
Thank you for taking the time to let me pour out my soul.
Thank you for visiting us at our website. If you want to learn
more, please contact us.
The Himmel Group