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Playtex Products logo (top),
Playtex Apparel logo
Product type Feminine care/baby care/intimate apparel
Owner Playtex Marketing Corp.
Country U.S.
Introduced 1947
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 brand name for undergarments, baby products, gloves, feminine products and sunscreen. It was founded in 1947, when International Latex Corporation (ILC) created a division named Playtex to produce and sell latex products. Playtex was the first to advertise undergarments on national television in 1955 and the first to show a woman wearing only a bra from the waist-up in a commercial in 1977.

Playtex-branded tampons were introduced in the 1960s and became the primary competition to incumbent Tampax. Playtex invented the plastic tampon applicator in 1973. It was one of the tampon manufacturers that were sued for aggressively advertising over-absorbent tampons, which led to toxic shock syndrome.

Playtex was acquired by Esmark in 1975, and then by Beatrice Foods in 1985. A year later it was acquired for $1.25 billion and its cosmetics brands were sold to Revlon. In 1988, Playtex split into two companies, Playtex Apparel Inc. and Playtex Products LLC. Playtex Apparel was sold to Sara Lee in 1991, and to HanesBrands in 2007.


  • History 1
    • Early history 1.1
    • Joel Smilow era 1.2
    • Recent history 1.3
  • Organization 2
  • Products 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


Early history

Abram Nathaniel Spanel founded Playtex's predecessor, the International Latex Corporation (ILC), in 1932[1] to produce latex products,[2] like bathing caps, swimwear[3] and baby pants.[1][4] ILC moved to Dover, Delaware in 1939, making it the first large, non-agricultural business in the city.[5][6]

A woman leaping while wearing a 1940s latex girdle

ILC did not produce apparel for adults until the introduction of the Living Girdle in 1940,[1] after patenting a method of manufacturing latex girdles that would not tear at the seams if they had a small tear or hole.[4] 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.[4]


  • Playtex official site
  • Playtex fits – bra campaign site
  • HanesBrands Inc.

External links

  1. ^ a b c Joey Green (6 July 2010). Joey Green's Cleaning Magic: 2,336 Ingenious Cleanups Using Brand-Name Products. Rodale. pp. 167–.  
  2. ^ a b Weitekamp, Margaret A. (2011). "Technology: The spacesuit unpicked". Nature 475 (7356): 294–294.  
  3. ^ a b Evan Morris (2 November 2004). From Altoids to Zima: The Surprising Stories Behind 125 Famous Brand Names. Simon and Schuster. pp. 98–.  
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Nicholas De Monchaux (18 March 2011). Spacesuit: Fashioning Apollo. MIT Press. pp. 121–.  
  5. ^ Beth Rubin (1 June 2007). Delaware Curiosities: Quirky Characters, Roadside Oddities & Other Offbeat Stuff. Globe Pequot. pp. 53–.  
  6. ^ "Dover, Delaware: founded in 1683 by William Penn and named..". Healthcare Traveler. June 1, 2007. 
  7. ^ "How to Dress for Space Travel". National Public Radio. March 25, 2011. Retrieved December 9, 2012. 
  8. ^ "STANLEY WARNER BUYS LATEX CORP.; $15,000,000 Cash Deal First for Movie Concern Outside Field of Entertainment". The New York Times. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–2014. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved February 27, 2014.
  10. ^ a b c Tom Reichert (2003). The Erotic History of Advertising. Prometheus Books. pp. 180–.  
  11. ^ "Alph Peterson, 82, Ex-Chief Executive who Led Playtex," New York Times. February 16, 1995.
  12. ^ Lafley/Charan (3 September 2010). The Game Changer: How Every Leader Can Drive Everyday Innovation. Profile Books. pp. 1975–.  
  13. ^ a b Playtex Products, Inc. v. First Quality Hygienic, Inc., 965 F. Supp. 339 (E.D.N.Y., 1996) Retrieved April 30, 2013.
  14. ^ a b Laurie Garrett (31 October 1994). The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance. Macmillan. pp. 819–.  
  15. ^ "Playtex tampon ad".  
  16. ^ E.g Ellis v. International Playtex, Inc., 745 F.2d 292 (4th Cir., 1984); Rinehart v. International Playtex, Inc., 688 F.Supp. 475 (S.D. Ind., 1988) and Stewart v. International Playtex Inc., 672 F.Supp. 907 (D.S.C., 1987)
  17. ^ Alice J. Dan; Linda L. Lewis (1992). Menstrual Health in Women's Lives. University of Illinois Press. pp. 265–.  
  18. ^ Lawrence M. Salinger (3 August 2004). Encyclopedia of White-Collar & Corporate Crime. SAGE. pp. 786–.  
  19. ^ Janice Delaney (1988). The Curse: A Cultural History of Menstruation. University of Illinois Press. pp. 145–.  
  20. ^ "Refinancing announced by Playtex". The Hour. September 14, 1988. Retrieved December 10, 2012. 
  21. ^ Cole, Robert (February 17, 1988). "Business Day". The New York Times. Retrieved December 10, 2012. 
  22. ^ I.B. 1975, Esmark in Pact to Buy Playtex, New York, N.Y., United States, New York, N.Y.
  23. ^ "Rapid-American Corp. 9-Month Operations Had $5.6 Million Loss". The Wall Street Journal. January 2, 1976. 
  24. ^ New York Media, LLC (12 December 1983). New York Magazine. New York Media, LLC. pp. 29–.  
  25. ^ "Playtex to Buy Skin Care Concern". The New York Times. p. 4. 
  26. ^ a b Roy C. Smith (1 May 2000). The Money Wars: The Rise & Fall of the Great Buyout Boom of the 1980s. Beard Books. pp. 201–.  
  27. ^ McCormick, Jay (February 17, 1988). "J&J to buy Playtex units for $726M". USA Today. 
  28. ^ Belkin, Lisa (28 March 1987). "Halston Finds Fashion A Fickle Mistress". The New York Times. 
  29. ^ a b c "TV Doesn't Allow Actors in Underwear in Commercials". The New York Times. September 12, 1976. Retrieved April 29, 2013. 
  30. ^ Dougherty, Philip H. (22 April 1987). "ADVERTISING; Playtex Ads Will Show Bras on Live Models". The New York Times. p. 19. 
  31. ^ a b Cole, Robert J. (15 September 1988). "COMPANY NEWS; Playtex Sets Buyout Pact Of $1.3 Billion". The New York Times. p. 4. 
  32. ^ a b "Playtex to split into two companies". September 16, 1988. Retrieved December 10, 2012. 
  33. ^ Pat Sloan, Alan Solomon and Laurie Freeman (April 9, 1990). "Playtex's Smilow snares Maybelline". Advertising Age. 
  34. ^ Storch, Charles (August 9, 1991). "Sara Lee To Don Playtex Garb For $571 Million". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved December 8, 2012. 
  35. ^ a b News, Bloomberg Business (6 November 1991). "COMPANY NEWS; Sara Lee's Stake In Playtex Family". The New York Times. p. 4. 
  36. ^ "Company News; Playtex Offering is most active stock on big board". The New York Times. p. 3. 
  37. ^ "Playtex Products to Sell Haas Wheat 40% Stake for $180 Million". The New York Times. March 21, 1995. p. 4. 
  38. ^ Ries, Al (2005). Focus: The Future of Your Company Depends on It.  
  39. ^ Houppert, Karen (2000). The Curse: Confronting the Last Unmentionable Taboo: Menstruation. MacMillan. pp. 39–43.  
  40. ^ Lafley, A.G.; Sharan, Ram. The Game Changer: How Every Leader Can Drive Everyday Innovation. Profile Books.  
  41. ^ Defendant's motion for summary judgement granted, Playtex Products Inc. v. Procter & Gamble, 290 F.Supp.2d 886 (S.D. Ohio, 2003); vac'd and aff'd in part Playtex Products Inc. v. Procter & Gamble, 400 F.3d 901 (Fed.Cir., 2005)
  42. ^ a b Playtex Products, Inc. v. Procter & Gamble, 635 F.Supp.2d 313 (S.D.N.Y, 2009). Retrieved April 30, 2013.
  43. ^ "Sara Lee proceeds with apparel unit spinoff". The Associated Press. May 24, 2006. Retrieved December 11, 2012. 
  44. ^ "Playtex buys Hawaiian Tropic for about $83 million". Reuters. April 19, 2007. Retrieved December 11, 2012. 
  45. ^ Slind-Flor, Victoria (April 21, 2008). "3M, Houghton Mifflin, Playtex: Intellectual Property (Update1)". Bloomberg. Retrieved December 11, 2012. 
  46. ^ Salter, Jim (July 13, 2007). "Energizer to acquire Playtex for $1.16B". USA Today. Retrieved December 11, 2012. 
  47. ^ "Mom files lawsuit against baby bottle maker". Associated Press. May 28, 2008. Retrieved December 11, 2012. 
  48. ^ Varnon, Rob (April 21, 2008). "Playtex to drop baby bottle chemical". Connecticut Post. Retrieved December 15, 2012. 
  49. ^ a b c Energizer Holdings Inc. 2012 Annual Report, Energizer Holdings, December 17, 2012, retrieved August 6, 2013 
  50. ^ Playtex website, Playtex Apparel, retrieved December 15, 2012 
  51. ^ a b c 2011 Annual Report, Hanesbrands, retrieved August 6, 2013 
  52. ^ "HanesBrands Completes Acquisition of DB Apparel and Increases Full-Year Earnings Guidance",  
  53. ^ Legal Notice, DBApparel, retrieved August 6, 2013 
  54. ^ Peril (2002). Pink think: becoming a woman in many uneasy lessons. W W Norton & Company Incorporated. pp. 217–.  
  55. ^ Stevenson, Seth (January 15, 2007). "Can Tampons be Cool". Slate. Retrieved April 28, 2013. 
  56. ^ Pam Weisz (June 6, 1994). "Playtex intros multi's, restages ultimates". Brandweek, 10644318, 35 (23). 
  57. ^ a b Kelly, E 2000, 'Hardly 'Play'-ed Out: Playtex Rebounds', Fortune, 141, 6, pp. 44-45, Business Source Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 17 December 2012.
  58. ^ Energizer Holdings 2011 Annual Report
  59. ^ Victoria's Secret (PDF), Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, 2002, retrieved December 10, 2012 
  60. ^ a b Jane Farrell Beck; Colleen Gau (22 October 2002). Uplift: The Bra in America. University of Pennsylvania Press. pp. 167–.  


The company has been producing and marketing the Cross Your Heart bra since 1954[60] under the slogan that it "lifts and separates," a phrase that is now well known in popular culture.[10] The Eighteen Hour bra has been marketed on the premise of comfort since the 1970s.[60]

  • Cross Your Heart
  • Eighteen-hour bra
  • Playtex Secrets
  • Full support
  • Everyday basics

Playtex-branded apparel products sold by Hanesbrands include bras, panties and shapewear. According to Hanesbrands, Playtex is the fourth largest brand by revenue in its portfolio.[51] The brand has the strongest loyalty among customers who prioritize fit. As of 2002, Playtex was the second most popular brand of bras.[59] In addition to panties and shapewear, Playtex bra brands include:

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.[57] 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.[35][58]

According to Energizer Holdings' 2012 annual report, Playtex Products LLC is the largest producer of household gloves, hand wipes and sunscreen, as well as the second largest producer of tampons in the US.[49] The best-selling Playtex tampon is the Gentle Glide brand, which was first introduced in 1973.[13][54] It also manufactures the Playtex Sport tampon, which targets young athletes.[55] Both brands are sold in regular, super and super-plus absorbency.[42] Playtex had a 29 percent share of a $550 million market for tampons in 1994[56] and a 30 percent share of a $780 million market by 2000.[57]


The Playtex trademark is owned by Playtex Marketing Corp. in the United States and Canada. They license the trademark to HBI Branded Apparel Enterprise (a subsidiary of Hanesbrands) for Playtex-branded apparel and Playtex Products Inc (a subsidiary of Energizer Holdings) for baby products, gloves and feminine products.[50] Hanesbrands and Energizer Holdings each own a fifty percent interest in Playtex Marketing Corp.[51] Hanesbrands also owns the rights to the brand name for use with apparel internationally, except in Europe and South Africa, where DBA Apparel (itself acquired by Hanes in 2014[52]) sells Playtex-branded apparel products.[51][53] Playtex Products LLC is managed under the Personal Care Division of Energizer Holdings.[49]


In 2013, the Playtex intimate apparel brand launched a $10 million integrated marketing campaign called "Be Uniquely You." This 360 rebranding included new bra styles and packaging and a strong presence in social media and national TV ads. The new campaign was created by KraftWorks NYC, their primary advertising agency since 2002.

In 2006, Sara Lee spun off its clothing sector into HanesBrands Inc., which now runs the Playtex apparel business.[43] The next year Playtex Products acquired the Hawaiian Tropic sunscreen company for $83 million.[44] Later that year Playtex Products was acquired by Energizer Holdings for $1.16 billion.[45][46] Playtex Products was sued in 2008, when a mother accused the company of not adequately disclosing their baby bottles contained bisphenol A.[47] After Canada considered banning the chemical, the company took it out of their bottles the following year.[48] In 2008, Playtex Products was acquired by Energizer Holdings.[49]

Playtex responded by litigating. In one suit, it alleged patent infringement over Pearl's applicator design.[41] 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.[42]

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.[40]

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.[38] 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.[39]

Recent history

In November of that year, Sara Lee also bought a 25 percent stake in Playtex Family Products for $62.5 million.[35]($108 million in modern dollars[9]). Playtex Products Inc. went public in 1994.[36] In 1995, another 40 percent of Playtex Products Inc. was sold to Haas Wheat & Harrison Investment Partners for $180 million[37]($279 million in modern dollars[9]).

In 1988 Playtex split into two companies, Playtex Apparel and Playtex Family Products, in a series of financial transactions totaling $1.3 billion.[32] 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.[31][32] In 1990 Playtex Products acquired cosmetics brand Maybelline for $300 million.[33]($542 million in modern dollars[9]). The next year Smilow sold Playtex Apparel to the Sara Lee Corporation, transferring the Bali, Hanes, and Cross Your Heart brands for $571 million, ($989 million in modern dollars[9]) but keeping the Playtex Family Products Corporation.[34]

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).[26] The following year the company attempted to sell the Family Products division to Johnson and Johnson but the deal fell through.[31]

The following year, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) relaxed rules regarding partial nudity on television,[29] which previously forced undergarment manufacturers to use mannequins in their commercials, despite bathing suits and equally revealing swimwear being allowed.[29] Playtex was the first to advertise with a live model wearing only a bra from the waist up.[29] This attracted criticisms from members of the American Family Association and the Eagle Forum.[10] The New York Times called the ads, "totally inoffensive" and CBS's spokesman said they were "well done, tasteful and not exploitative."[30]

The semi-nude model in a 1985 advertisement that took advantage of relaxed NAB regulations

By the early 1980s, Playtex controlled 25 percent of the market for bras, giving it the largest market-share in the industry.[24] In 1982 Playtex acquired the skin and hair products brand, Jhirmack Enterprises Inc., for $28.3 million.[25]($69.2 million in modern dollars[9]). Three years later Esmark sold Playtex to Beatrice Foods.[26] Four years later an investor group led by Smilow bought Playtex for $1.25 billion ($2.69 billion in modern dollars[9]). To help fund the acquisition, the company's cosmetics brands, Max Factor, Almay and Halston,[27] were sold to Revlon for $345 million.[28]($688 million in modern dollars[9]).

Joel Smilow became chief executive officer (CEO) of Playtex in 1969[20] and was associated with the company through five owners.[21] The company was acquired by Esmark in 1975 for $210 million[22][23]($920 million in modern dollars)[9].

The Playtex logo before the brand was split among multiple companies

Joel Smilow era

Playtex created a consumer products subsidiary, Playtex Products Inc., in 1960,[11] which produced baby products, tampons and other consumer goods.[4] It introduced and patented the first plastic tampon applicator in 1973.[12][13] By 1975, the five largest tampon manufacturers began competing with multi-million dollar advertising budgets[14] and Playtex became the primary competitor to market-leader Tampax.[15] 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.[14] Tampon manufacturers, including Playtex, were sued[16] for aggressively advertising and competing over absorbency, when some studies found that excessive absorbency leads to toxic shock syndrome.[17][18] 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.[19]

In 1954, ILC was sold to Stanley Warner Corporation for $15 million[8]($132 million in modern dollars[9]). The following year, it was the first to advertise under-garments on network television.[10] 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.[4]

[4] 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.[3] of "play" and "latex", reflecting its focus on latex products.portmanteau Its name was a [2]

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