ARM & HAMMER SPENDING SOARS TO BACK DENTAL GUM: $15 MIL EFFORT TO HELP SPARK NEW SEGMENT

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The first major campaign from Church & Dwight Co.'s in-house ad operation will be the estimated $15 million rollout of Arm & Hammer Dental Care gum, being positioned more as a dentifrice than a gum.

The planned outlay for the ad campaign, kicking off in May, represents a significant investment for Church & Dwight; it spent only about $20 million on measured media last year, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

R.J. Palmer Inc., New York, handles media buying. Church & Dwight late last year moved its account in-house from Partners & Shevack.

The rollout will be supported by one of two TV campaigns now being tested, said Larry Koslow, VP-marketing at Church & Dwight. One is themed "No wonder it's the only gum in the toothpaste aisle"; the other plays on the heritage of the Arm & Hammer name, said the executive.

TOUTED AS BREAKTHROUGH

The gum is being touted as a breakthrough in the $445 million sugarless gum segment. The last gum to be positioned as a dentifrice was Minnetonka Laboratories' Check-Up brand, introduced in the 1980s. That product is no longer being marketed.

Arm & Hammer Dental Care gum makes the claim it can reduce plaque up to 25% if used for four weeks daily after eating.

The gum is sold in a 12-count pack at retail, priced at $1.49, much higher than regular gums but lower than plaque-fighting toothpastes.

"It delivers toothpaste benefits in a gum and is designed to be used as an adjunct to brushing," Mr. Koslow said, adding that he believes dentifrice gums eventually could become a $100 million to $200 million segment.

"We are attempting to create a whole new trend and are fully expecting a number of major competitors," he said.

Such a segment may appeal to toothpaste marketers, but gum competitors have so far stayed away from new dentifrice-style products. Instead, gum marketers have mainly positioned existing brands, including Trident from Warner-Lambert Co. and Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co.'s Extra, as alternatives to brushing.

Wrigley leads sugarfree gums with $153 million in sales, down 0.7%, and a 34.4% share for the 52 weeks ended Feb. 1, according to Information Resources Inc. LifeSavers is second with $146.7 million, up 2.8%, for a 33% share; Warner-Lambert is No. 3 with $142.2 million in sales, up 20%, and a 32% share.

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