Olay is an American skin care line. It is one of Procter & Gamble's multi-billion dollar brands. For the 2009 fiscal year, which ended on June 30, Olay accounted for an estimated $2.8Â billion of P&G's $79Â billion in revenue.
Olay originated in South Africa as Oil of Olay. Graham Wulff (1916â"2008), an ex-Unilever chemist from Durban, started it in 1949. The name "Oil of Olay" was chosen by Wulff as a spin on the word "lanolin", a key ingredient.
It was unique in the early days because it was a pink fluid rather than a cream, packaged in a heavy glass bottle. Wulff and his marketing partner, Jack Lowe, a former copywriter, had tested the product on their wives and friends and were confident in its uniqueness and quality.
Olay's marketing was also unique, since it was never described as a moisturizer, nor even as beauty fluid. Nowhere on the packaging did it say what the product actually did. Print adverts used copy such as âShare the secret of a younger looking youâ and talked about the âbeauty secretâ of oil of Olay. Other adverts were written as personal messages to the reader from a fictitious advice columnist named Margaret Merril. They ran in Readersâ Digest and newspapers and often looked like editorials.
Wulff and Lowe, who ran the company under the banner of Adams National Industries (ANI), did not sell the product to the trade, but waited for pharmacies to ask for it based on consumer requests.
As the company began to market the product internationally, it was decided to modify the name of the product in each country so it would sound pleasing and realistic to consumers. This led to the introduction of Oil of Ulay (UK and Ireland), Oil of Ulan (Australia) and Oil of Olaz (France, Italy, the Netherlands and Germany). In 1970, ANI opened a test market in US (Chicago), and was expanding into northern Germany.
Richardson Merrell Inc (later Richardson-Vicks Inc) acquired ANI in November 1970. RVI capitalized the "Oil" and added the sub-name "Beauty Fluid" to help protect the trade mark. They further added a sales force and created TV advertising. The company extended the product range to include items such as Night of Ulay and Beauty Cleanser, and expanded into more countries (Spain, France, Germany)
The result of Richardson Merrell's efforts was a dramatic increase in sales. However, as with many brands, the business was not managed uniformly so there were differences in performance between the countries.
RVI was acquired by Procter & Gamble in 1985. P&G greatly expanded Olay both in lineup and internationally. Olay became one of P&G's billion dollar brands in 2003.
Since then, the range has been expanded to include a full range of hypoallergenic variants, cleansers and creams with the aim of meeting the full range of skincare needs, whatever the user's age or skin type. The brand also includes soap, and body wash. Olay Cosmetics was launched in 1996 but discontinued in 2001.
In 1999, it was decided to unify the brand under a global name. Thus, Oil of Ulan and Ulay became Olay on a worldwide basis, except in German-speaking regions and Italy, where it remained Oil of Olaz. In the Netherlands and Belgium, it was renamed just Olaz.
The Olay brand has expanded into a range of other products grouped in âboutiquesâ including Complete, Total Effects, Professional, Regenerist, Quench (North America), White Radiance (Asia) and Olay Vitamins (US). Olay is the market leader in many countries including the US, UK, and China. Olay has extended its heritage as a moisturizer to stay looking young, to formally creating the "anti-aging" category in mass stores with the launch of Total Effects in 1999. Active Hydrating Formula, generally the least expensive variety, bears the closest resemblance to the pink "Oil of Olay" marketed in the US before the P&G acquisition. The launch was almost double the typical price of a mass market moisturizer at the time. Today, there are numerous products on the market that are more expensive than Olay.
Olay Regenerist was the best performing anti-aging cream in a 2006 test done by a consumer association, outperforming some much more expensive brands. This report also stated:
- But the U.S. consumer union said none of the creams tested produced a dramatic improvement.:
- It advised that staying out of the sun or using skin products with a high sun protection factor was the best option.
- The consumer union said: 'We found that after 12 weeks our toprated products did smooth out some fine lines and wrinkles.'
- However, it added: 'Even the best performers reduced the average depth of wrinkles by less than 10 per cent, a magnitude of change was, alas, barely visible to the naked eye.
In August 2007, Olay was launched in India.
Olay's current slogan is "Challenge what's possible", which was changed from "Love the skin you're in".
Since 2010, "Oil of OLAZ" has simply been known as "OLAZ" in German-speaking countries. Slogan: "Olaz lÃ¤sst Sie strahlen." (lit: "Olaz lets you shine.")
The Olay/Olaz brand is known for animal testing, according to a list published by PETA.
- List of Procter & Gamble brands