Sassoon files suit against P&G

Source: Vidal Sassoon

Legal Action Alleges Systematic Neglect, Mismanagement, Sabotage and Destruction of Brand and Legendary Name P&G's Abandonment of Product, Refusal to Sell Back Leaves Sassoon "Contractual Prisoner"

Vidal Sassoon alleges that since P&G acquired his hair care brand through an acquisition of Richardson-Vicks in 1985, 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.

"I feel betrayed," stated Mr. Sassoon, regarded as one of the most influential hair stylists in the world. "I trusted one of the world's most powerful marketing machines when they assured me that my name represented a billion-dollar brand. Instead, they systematically decimated my brand -- despite the continued popularity of my product line.
It's not simply that the brand is my name -- it represents more than 50 years of my professional life. I won't be buried."

According to Mr. Sassoon, in spite of the Sassoon brand's continued success in Asia, where it is P&G's number one selling hair care line, P&G announced earlier this year that it was shelving indefinitely Sassoon products in the United States, Canada and Europe. The lawsuit asserts that P&G cannibalized the Sassoon name and product in recent years to support its other hair care brands, starving it of new products, advertising dollars, and vital shelf space in retail outlets. "Through a program of neglect and outright denial," the filing states, "P&G has turned the highly successful brand bearing the world-renowned name of the creator of a beauty revolution into the filler of bargain basement close-out bins."

"I am a contractual prisoner. I have attempted to get my name back from P&G, but it has rebuffed my efforts in fear that the Sassoon brand could effectively become a competitor in the hands of capable marketers," Mr. Sassoon added.

Sassoon also noted that the brand's great strength in Asia -- coupled with the continued licensing success of salons, hair dryers and related products -- validate the value of his name.

"This is a cautionary tale for any entrepreneur whose brand is their name," he added. "My name was entrusted in the hands of P&G, who left it devalued and orphaned. I want my name back. Who wouldn't under these circumstances?"

The Vidal Sassoon name has been synonymous with high fashion, glamour and style for more than 50 years. He is credited with transforming the profession of hair styling to a fashion leader, elevating the status of the professional hairdresser from a service provider to respected artist. Sassoon made his initial mark in London during the 1960s, revolutionizing hair styling as the creative architect of a radically new approach, spawning scores of imitators and achieving icon status along the way.

Through an exclusive licensing agreement, the hair products pioneer entrusted the stewardship of his name to Richardson-Vicks, Incorporated in 1985 and, subsequent to its acquisition, to P&G. Worldwide sales of approximately 40 Sassoon products approached $470 million in 1995, after which "P&G consistently ... squandered the hard earned equity of the Sassoon name, compromised the value of the brand, and promoted other hair care products -- for which P&G owed no royalties -- at the direct expense of Sassoon's brand image and value," the filing states.

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AnonymousCoward's picture

which is why birdherder remains a niche brand.

anonymous's picture

Alas, I too have searched high and low for the conditioner. NOTHING else compares to this product. Please bring it back.

anonymous's picture

Procter and Gamble Vidal brand in the United states have contact info (email) and a 1-800 phonenumber listed on that page. I suggest letting them know about your dissapointment with their handling of the Vidal brand.

anonymous's picture

It is obviously NOT Vidals fault as he is sueing to get his brand back from the Procter and Gamble hacks who are killing the shampoo we all love.

anonymous's picture

I used vidal sasson for 25 years, and sold other
beauty supplies. I am stuck too. I have
been using Jherimack EFA shampoo, but
can't find a similar conditioner to v.s.
I have managed to buy products in drug
stores that are in black neighborhoods.
Once in a while a bottle will show up.
I look like a jerk. Thanks vidal sasson
for not informing us, your loyal customers.

anonymous's picture

i, too, cannot believe Vidal Sassoon hair care products cannot be purchased in the US anymore.
His was the ONLY shampoo and conditioning products that worked on my scalp; left my hair soft, shiny, full, and did not dry out my hair, scab my head, or make my head itch by the end of the day.
I CANNOT use any ordinary shampoos out there at all. I am REALLY stuck. Way to go p&g you have screwed everyone - corporate america stinks - they are a bunch of greedy s.o.b.'s. may they rot underground!

anonymous's picture

I used vidal for 14 years and now its gone. My scalp is dry and itchy and my hair is falling out. I cry all the time. I just want my shampoo back!

anonymous's picture

I've been a loyal fan of VS ever since I got my hair cut in one of his earliest salons, in L.A., in 1973. I love his shampoo and conditioners because my hair always looks good and it doesn't smell bad after using the products. I especially can't handle the stink from most other hair products. So like everyone else, I've been searching the store shelves for months, and finally did this search. Although I am totally bummed to discover P&G yanked ALL VS products from ALL shelves in the civilized world, I would be happy if I could just find a product that duplicates the great properties of the VS shampoo, conditioner and hair spray. If you know of any, please let me know... I'll also boycott P&G, but meanwhile I have to wash my hair.

Dabitch's picture

Of course they don't care about the consumer. They never fucking care about the consumer. You are (as consumer) just the idiot who buys their crap after seeing ther inane ads, repeated over and over, media buys are like carpet bombing.

I've unfortunatly worked on a lot of p&g accounts. They think the consumer is an idiot - and it shows in their advertising.

they must be right though, as they sell more crap and advertise more often than anyone else.

Dabitch's picture

you guys promising to boycott Procter and Gamble products - I'm soooo pleased! Vote with your dollars!

I've boycotted them for years, actually quite hard to do [especially in the states] since they produce almost everything you need for personal hygiene, from toothpaste to tampons.

Procter and Gamble make a lot of stuff. Write down the brands you find on their site so you know what not to buy.

anonymous's picture

I am glad and very outraged to have found this information on this site. I have used VS hair sprays exclusively for several years and have searched high and low in the past month unable to find any and didn't know why. None of the store employees I asked about this were aware of why the products were no longer on their shelves. I even went to a beauty supply store and got the same reaction . . . "I don't know".

I am appalled at what is happening and very frustrated. I find the behavior of a giant corporation such as P&B to be what they all are becoming . . . GREEDY TO THE MAX . . . and care little for the wants and needs of the consumer.

SHAME ON YOU P&G . . . I, too, will boycott the purchase of any of your other brand products.


Dabitch's picture

Hey Anonymous sasoon fans.

You know how you can get some Sasson Products? Send evil (angry!!) letters of complaint to the Devils right Hand Procter And Gamble.

They're marketing Gods after all, If the markets SCREAMS for a product, they might bring it back.

Or Testify to Vidals behalf that you a) like the stuff and B) can't find it on any shelves. That is after all what the suit is about. :)

anonymous's picture

I had been searching high and low for Vidal Sassoon products and came to the realization that my sister was telling me the truth...Vidal Sassoon Products are no longer available in the USA. I was in denial and searched online to come across this article. I am saddened by the news and believe that I will never find another that will replace Vidal Sassoon.

anonymous's picture

After using the fine quality Vidal Sassoon Shampoos, etc for about 25 years, I cannot believe that P&G has treated Vidal Sassoon and his company so badly and that I will not be able to purchase his products here in the USA. I plan to boycot all of the P&G products I currently purchase, and encourage all other outraged citizens to do the same! There should be more publictiy about this lawsuit in the USA (I only found out by desperately serching for information online)as none of the stores I have previously purchased Vidal Sassoon's products in have educated their sales staff about the situation. Even my hair stylist didn't know!

Dabitch's picture


"We are disappointed that Mr. Sassoon has chosen to bring a lawsuit against the company," said Kim Vollbrecht, a spokeswoman for Cincinnati-based Proctor & Gamble. "We have consistently supported this business and we don't believe his case has merit."

Sassoon's brand was one of those acquired by Proctor & Gamble when it bought Richardson-Vicks Inc. in 1985.

Sassoon's line of shampoos, gels, sprays and conditioners reaped nearly $470 million in worldwide sales during its peak year of 1995, his spokesman said.

Since then, the lawsuit claims, the company has withdrawn its marketing support for Sassoon's hair care line even though it still is a top brand in Asia.

The company announced earlier this year that it is stopping sales of the Sassoon line in United States, Canada and Europe, Parsons said.

The suit contends that "a program of neglect and outright denial" has turned Sassoon's products "into the filler of bargain basement close-out bins."

Instead, the suit claims that Proctor & Gamble has funneled attention to its other brands, such as Pantene, which doesn't require the company to pay royalties.

Dabitch's picture

bitchslap some more Vidal! I pray he wins!

blabla's picture

He is sooo bitchslappin' Procter and Gamble!

"....the Sassoon brand could effectively become a competitor in the hands of capable marketers.."

take that you (p&g) amatuers.

adlib's picture

it's some damn good shampoo too.

Neo's picture

I don't think he has a chance in hell - much as I'd like to believe he does.

Dabitch's picture

Ah YESS the weak and battered David takes on the Big Bad Boy Goliath of advertising today - Kick his shins Vidal! Kick his shins!

I hope for everything to come out in Vidal's favor. Somebody has to stop that steamroller of cloned suits from deciding what the world showers deodorizes and moistens with.

Dabitch's picture

true, true... but it sounds like they aquired his brand in some 1980's "wall street" style hostile takeover. ;-)

AnonymousCoward's picture

thinking that p&g would not dilute his brand was foolhardy. it's proctor and gamble for chrissakes.

anon's picture

nothing compares to vidal sassoon shampoo conditioner & finishing rinse-the fantastic almond fragrance & products that made my hair so soft & smooth! never found a good enough replacement! wish it was available again!!

Mushi's picture

Now I know the truth, I have searched and searched for VS Products in Australia for a long while now.
So they have not only been withdrawn in the US etc as mentioned.
Australia is generally gathered together with Asia in a worldwide way and we can buy the VS hardware products but NOT their hair products.
It drives me to distraction.
Everytime I go to the UK I visit VS for a 'proper' hair cut and to buy product, which I then bring back to Australia. When I run out I get very desperate and didn't realise until I read these pages the reason why.
Shame on you P&G, to promote Pantene above VS, just goes to prove what little you know about hair products. Pantene is just rubbish and a waste of time, it just ruins my fine hair and makes my scalp itch. Anyway I would never consider a supermarket product, generally they're useless.
Obviously it gets down to money into the coffers of the grey men.
I shall now check every product I buy and make sure it doesn't come from P&G.
Thought I might try Hong Kong (going there next week), but it seems no, looking at the above submissions.
I guess I shall have to contact friends in the UK and get it posted out.
You should be thoroughly ashamed of your marketing ways P&G.

AnonymousCoward's picture

No you can't get VS shampoo & conditione
in the UK either. I looked for it for 10 years!!

Magdalen Tuttle's picture

I have been wondering for years what happened to it. This was my favorite shampoo. I can still recall what it smelled like. Everything else has been a dissapointment.