Playtex Products logo (top),
Playtex Apparel logo
|Product type||Feminine care/baby care/intimate apparel|
|Owner||Playtex Marketing Corp.|
|Related brands||Hawaiian Tropic|
|Previous owners||International Latex Corp., Playtex Products Inc.|
|Registered as a trademark in||U.S., Canada|
|Tagline||Making Every Day Better (feminine and infant care),
Who Knows You Like We Do? (bras)
Playtex is a product brand owned by Playtex Marketing Corp. and leased to several companies that sell Playtex-branded products. Sara Lee has exclusive rights to the Playtex brand for bras, panties and shapewear in Europe and South Africa, while a HanesBrands subsidiary sells Playtex apparel in the rest of the world. Playtex Products LLC, which is owned by Energizer Holdings, sells Playtex-branded baby cups, gloves, tampons and other consumer products. Prior to 1988 all Playtex-branded products were sold by a single company.
Playtex was founded as International Latex Corporation (ILC), which started out making infants' rubber pants in the 1930s, before expanding into women's girdles. After World War II, ILC resumed production and created Playtex as one of four divisions. Playtex established the use of standard sizes for undergarments, while previously they were custom-tailored. The company was the first to advertise undergarments on national television in 1955. Twenty-two years later, it was also the first to take advantage of relaxed regulations by the National Association of Broadcasters, when it showed a live model wearing a bra in a commercial.
During the 1960s, tampons and infant-care products bearing the Playtex brand were introduced, making Playtex the primary competitor to Tampax in the tampon sector. Playtex also introduced the plastic tampon applicator. In 1962, before Playtex's industrial division spun-off into ILC Dover, it helped create the latex components of the spacesuits used in the Apollo mission. From 1969 to the 1990s, chief executive officer Joel Smilow led the company through a series of acquisitions and sales. Playtex was acquired by Esmark in 1975, and then by Beatrice Foods in 1985. A year later an investor group led by Smilow bought Playtex for $1.25 billion. Its cosmetics brands were sold to Revlon to fund the acquisition.
In 1988, Smilow split Playtex into two companies in a $1.3 billion transaction that bought out some of Playtex's other investors and put ownership into two separate investment firms operated by Smilow. In 1991, Playtex Apparel Inc., was sold to Sara Lee Corporation, which became part of Energizer Holdings in 2007. Several of Sara Lee's brands, including Playtex Apparel, were spun-off into HanesBrands.
Early history 
Abram Nathaniel Spanel founded Playtex's predecessor, the International Latex Corporation (ILC), in 1932 to produce latex products, like bathing caps, swimwear and baby pants. ILC moved to Dover, Delaware in 1939, making it the first large, non-agricultural business in the city.
ILC did not produce apparel for adults until the introduction of the Living Girdle in 1940, after patenting a method of manufacturing latex girdles that would not tear at the seams if they had a small tear or hole. The Living Girdle was advertised with images of mobility and comfort, such as women playing tennis or leaping while wearing it, though the solid rubber girdle was actually very uncomfortable.
During World War II, the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the Japanese invasion of Malaysia cut off Allied manufacturers from their largest sources of latex. As supplies ran out and demand for consumer products fell, ILC halted production; sales would not resume until 1946. The company almost went out of business during the war, so it created an industrial division to find government and military applications for latex. Playtex was founded in 1947 as one of four divisions ILC re-organized into. Its name was a portmanteau of "play" and "latex", reflecting its focus on laytex products. Playtex's marketing in the post-war era was influential in creating the shift from custom-tailored undergarments to manufactured sizes. For example, the company introduced large floor displays with fitting charts, so women could find the right size without a custom fitting.
In 1954, ILC was sold to Stanley Warner Corporation for $15 million($128 million in modern dollars). The following year, it was the first to advertise under-garments on network television. In 1962, the industrial division of Playtex was awarded a contract to develop space suits for the Apollo mission to the moon. Two years prior to the 1969 moon landing that used its latex suits, Playtex's industrial division was spun off, eventually becoming ILC Dover.
Playtex created a consumer products subsidiary, Playtex Products Inc., in 1960, which produced baby products, tampons and other consumer goods. It introduced and patented the first plastic tampon applicator in 1973. By 1975, the five largest tampon manufacturers began competing with multi-million dollar advertising budgets and Playtex became the primary competitor to market-leader Tampax. Playtex introduced a scented tampon that was advertised with the slogan, "When you're wearing a tampon you don't worry about odor. But should you?" It added a warning label saying that some women may experience irritation from the chemicals after complaints were raised by Planned Parenthood. Tampon manufacturers, including Playtex, were sued for aggressively advertising and competing over absorbency, when some studies found that excessive absorbency leads to toxic shock syndrome. In 1985, a judge offered to reduce an $11 million verdict against Playtex, if they admitted their super-plus tampons were killing women and recalled them.
Joel Smilow era 
Joel Smilow became chief executive officer (CEO) of Playtex in 1969 and was associated with the company through five owners. The company was acquired by Esmark in 1975 for $210 million($896 million in modern dollars).
By the early 1980s, Playtex controlled 25 percent of the market for bras, giving it the largest market-share in the industry. In 1982 Playtex acquired the skin and hair products brand, Jhirmack Enterprises Inc., for $28.3 million.($67.3 million in modern dollars). Three years later Esmark sold Playtex to Beatrice Foods. Four years later an investor group led by Smilow bought Playtex for $1.25 billion ($2.62 billion in modern dollars). To help fund the acquisition, the company's cosmetics brands, Max Factor, Almay and Halston, were sold to Revlon for $345 million.($670 million in modern dollars).
The following year, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) relaxed rules regarding partial nudity on television, which previously forced undergarment manufacturers to use mannequins in their commercials, despite bathing suits and equally revealing swimwear being allowed. Playtex was the first to advertise with a live model wearing only a bra from the waist up. This attracted criticisms from members of the American Family Association and the Eagle Forum. The New York Times called the ads, "totally inoffensive" and CBS's spokesman said they were "well done, tasteful and not exploitative."
Ownership of the remaining apparel and consumer products divisions were split among the company's leadership (28 percent), BCI Holdings (20 percent), Drexel Burnham (19 percent) and institutional investors (33 percent). The following year the company attempted to sell the Family Products division to Johnson and Johnson but the deal fell through.
In 1988 Playtex split into two companies, Playtex Apparel and Playtex Family Products, in a series of financial transactions totaling $1.3 billion. The transactions allowed Smilow to buy out other Playtex shareholders and put ownership of the brand into two separate investment groups that were owned by Smilow and other Playtex executives. In 1990 Playtex Products acquired cosmetics brand Maybelline for $300 million.($5.27 billion in modern dollars). The next year Smilow sold Playtex Apparel to the Sara Lee Corporation, transferring the Bali, Hanes, and Cross Your Heart brands for $571 million, ($962 million in modern dollars) but keeping the Playtex Family Products Corporation.
In November of that year, Sara Lee also bought a 25 percent stake in Playtex Family Products for $62.5 million.($105 million in modern dollars). Playtex Products Inc. went public in 1994. In 1995, another 40 percent of Playtex Products Inc. was sold to Haas Wheat & Harrison Investment Partners for $180 million($271 million in modern dollars).
Recent history 
Playtex Products continued to erode Tampax's' market share throughout the late 20th century. The two companies had divided the market almost evenly by the late 1990s. Both makers increased profits primarily by reducing the tampon count per box, and prepared to enter emerging markets, particularly in Asia, where many women still used homemade pads. In 1997 Procter & Gamble (P&G), makers of Always sanitary napkins and pantiliners, bought Tambrands for $1.25 billion, its largest acquisition up to that point, returning to the tampon sector almost two decades after pulling Rely from the market over Toxic Shock Syndrome concerns.
Due to its strong advantage among younger women, and baby boomers reaching menopause, Playtex continued to gain market share on Tampax. After extensive market research, Tampax reversed that trend with the 2002 introduction of Pearl, with an applicator designed to be as visually appealing as it was functional, and making the brand once again appealing to teens.
Playtex responded by litigating. In one suit, it alleged patent infringement over Pearl's applicator design. It also alleged that advertising claiming Tampax Pearl had better leakage protection and comfort than Gentle Glide was false. Playtex won a verdict prohibiting Tampax from making claims of superiority, until the decision was reversed in 2007, when Tampax made improvements in materials and manufacturing.
In 2006, Sara Lee spun off its clothing sector into HanesBrands Inc., which now runs the Playtex apparel business. The next year Playtex Products acquired the Hawaiian Tropic sunscreen company for $83 million. Later that year Playtex Products was acquired by Energizer Holdings for $1.16 billion. Playtex Products was sued in 2008, when a mother accused the company of not adequately disclosing their baby bottles contained bisphenol A. After Canada considered banning the chemical, the company took it out of their bottles the following year.
The Playtex trademark is owned by Playtex Marketing Corp. and licensed to companies that sell products under the brand name. The Playtex bra brand is operated by HBI Branded Apparel Enterprise, LLC, a subsidiary of Energizer Holdings, except in the European Union and South Africa, where Sara Lee operates the Playtex apparel brand. Playtex Products sells Playtex brand pacifiers, feminine products and other consumer goods. The Playtex consumer products company is operated as Playtex Products, LLC.
As of 2011, Playtex is the second-largest producer of tampons in the US. Its best-selling tampon is the Gentle Glide brand, which was introduced in 1973. It also manufactures the Playtex Sport tampon, which targets young athletes. Both brands are sold in regular, super and super-plus absorbency. Playtex had a 29 percent share of a $550 million market for tampons in 1994 and a 30 percent share of a $780 market by 2000.
Historically baby products were a small portion of Playtex Products' revenues, but by 2000 they made up 38 percent of the company's revenues. As of that year it had a 60 percent share of the market for "sippy cups" and an 84 percent share of the market for disposable baby-bottle liners. Other baby products include Chubs Baby Wipes, Baby Magic toiletries (until 2007), and Diaper Genie. It also produces Banana Board sunscreen, Playtex gloves, and Wet Ones wipes. Playtex Products also manufactures the Banana Boat and Hawaiian Tropic sunscreen brands, household gloves, diaper pails, cleansing cloths and the Ortho-Pro and Binky pacifiers.
Playtex Apparel sells bras, panties and shapewear. According to Energizer Holdings, which owns the Playtex Apparel brand, their products include "solutions for hard to fit figures." The brand has the strongest loyalty among customers who prioritize fit. As of 2002, it was the second largest producer of bras. Its more popular bras include the Living Bra, the Cross Your Heart bra, and the Eighteen Hour Bra. The company has been producing and marketing the Cross Your Heart bra since 1954 under the slogan that it "lifts and separates," now a well-known phrase in popular culture. The Eighteen Hour bra has been marketed on the premise of comfort since the 1970s.
- Cross Your Heart
- Eighteen-hour bra
- Playtex Secrets
- Full support
- Everyday basics
- Baby products
- Feminine care
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