Black bra, black panties, now matching pantiliners

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Procter & Gamble Co. is once again bringing fashion to feminine hygiene-this time with black pantiliners.

The enduring popularity of black clothing and underwear inspired P&G to bring black to the formerly pristine-white category with the launch of Alldays Black Pantiliners in six European countries this month. Alldays Black was developed at a P&G global research center in Germany in response to what the company said was consumer demand. The introduction follows the U.S. launch of Alldays Thong Pantiliners (AA, Jan. 15).

The Alldays launches have been accompanied by an unprecedented erotic twist for category advertising. The 20-second spot for Alldays Black, from D'Arcy, Hamburg, opens with a young couple undressing as music plays in the background. Soon, the young woman is wearing only black stockings and garters, a black bra and black panties. The camera then leaves the couple and switches to a pair of black panties-with a white pantiliner-showing that the combination doesn't work. A voice-over says, "Sometimes you need black."

P&G estimates that 30% of all panties sold are black or other non-white colors in the six markets Alldays Black has targeted: Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, Holland and Greece.

The product was developed after consumers inquired whether the pantiliners were available in other colors. P&G conducted its own research, asking consumers which color, after white, they would prefer. The answer was black. Shoppers at lingerie stores also wanted black.

P&G declined to comment on when Alldays Black will be launched in other countries, but Alldays Thong was introduced in the U.S. last September following a May 2000 rollout in Germany.

P&G and Bcom3 Group's D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, Alldays' global agency, took a risque ad approach in a campaign running in February issues of U.S. women's magazines for Alldays Thong pantiliners. It features the back side of a seated woman wearing nothing but a thong, and the tagline: "Months of research and very little to show for it."

In Germany, the $130 million pantiliner market is led by P&G, with a 36.1% share. Near rival Johnson & Johnson has a 31.1% share. The rest of the market is divided among Kimberly-Clark Corp.'s Camelia brand, with 7%, and generic and retailers' own brands.

P&G's Always and Alldays brands were on a roll globally in the late 1990s, but have faced tougher competition and flat or falling sales in the past two years. Appealing to the fashion sense of younger consumers could be crucial as P&G fends off a global ad assault from Kimberly-Clark's Kotex. WPP Group's Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide will unveil a Kotex "red dot" TV and print effort in Europe in March. The ads, which aim to make a brand often perceived as old-fashioned seem more contemporary, broke in Colombia in April 2000 and in the U.S. in October.

"We tested [the campaign with consumers] at a younger age than we typically would have, and it plays well there," said Tim Lehman, president, North American feminine care for Kimberly-Clark. "You fought with your mom," reads one print ad. "You fought with your boyfriend. You fought your jeans. ... Like you have any energy to fight with your pads."

"Fem care continues to be probably our toughest competitive environment," Tom Falk, Kimberly-Clark's president-chief operating officer told analysts in a conference call Jan. 24. On the plus side, he said, the company topped a 50% share in Korea for the first time in the fourth quarter.

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