$60 MILLION NEW-PRODUCT PUSH TO AID P&G'S CREST: TOOTHPASTE, BRUSH INTROS SET TO PRE-EMPT COLGATE'S TOTAL

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Procter & Gamble Co. is making a $60 million marketing bid to buttress its flagging Crest oral-care brand while it braces for an onslaught by Colgate-Palmolive Co.'s new Total toothpaste.

With new Crest MultiCare toothpaste, testing in Tulsa, Okla., since last fall, and untested Crest MultiClean toothbrushes, P&G is focusing on bolstering its main Crest brand.

The P&G products ship to retailers in July with advertising breaking on Crest MultiCare in August and on Crest MultiClean in September, from D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, New York, and Leo Burnett USA, Chicago, respectively.

MORE THAN 40 MIL SAMPLES

The $60 million marketing package includes more than 40 million samples to consumers and professionals, and coupon-ing via newspaper free-standing insert.

Industry analysts say the introduction will allow P&G to beat Colgate's Total toothpaste to market.

That product, which makes anti-gingivitis claims in international markets, is still bogged down in the Food & Drug Administration approval process.

Meanwhile, Church & Dwight Co.'s Arm & Hammer brand is testing an oral-care chewing gum, a category that P&G is believed to have already considered and, for now at least, rejected.

ARM & HAMMER GUM

Church & Dwight since November has been testing Arm & Hammer Dental Care gum, which contains the brand's trademark baking soda and claims to reduce plaque.

The Arm & Hammer gum also contains calcium carbonate and xylitol; the latter is found in P&G's Crest MultiCare toothpaste.

The gum is testing in California, Iowa and Massachusetts, with advertising from Partners & Shevack, New York.

Larry Koslow, VP-marketing for personal care at Church & Dwight, said the test will likely last through fall, noting that it will take that long to see if consumers' impulse buying habits can be converted to considered purchases, since the product will be merchandised in oral-care aisles instead of at checkout.

P&G had been mulling the marketing of Impact oral-care gum in the U.S., modeled after a similar product it sells in Germany and Austria. Executives close to the company said the idea has been dropped; P&G would not comment on that.

CREST, COLGATE LOSING SHARE

For now, Crest and Colgate are both losing share in the $1.45 billion toothpaste and the $536 million toothbrush segments.

Crest sales are sliding in both toothpaste and toothbrushes, dropping 1 share point to 27.2% and 2.3 points to 10%, respectively. The Colgate brand is facing increased pressure as well; its toothbrush share has fallen 3.3 points to 19.2% and Colgate toothpaste is flat at 19%.

The intensifying pressure on the Crest brand has resulted in speculation that DMB&B may be in trouble on Crest.

Over the last few months, the agency has changed its account and creative management teams on P&G brands.

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