P&G is looking to set Bounty napkins apart with claims for strength and durability in a category where brands are positioned primarily on value or elegance.
The marketer also will support the extension of its paper towel line by supporting the napkins with advertising; ad support is rare in the napkin segment.
"We noticed in consumer tests that many consumers were disappointed with ordinary napkins [tearing] quite easily and sticking to their fingers," a P&G spokesman said.
Backing the test in Charleston, S.C., are TV, radio and print ads from Jordan McGrath Case & Partners, New York. Creative borrows from the long-running "Little kids, big spills" campaign for Bounty paper towels.
"The theme is about the happy chaos of a messy meal at a big household and how Bounty Quilted Napkins solve frustrations in that situation," the spokesman said.
P&G is hoping Bounty can do in napkins what it has in the $2.4 billion paper towel category, where the brand has sales of $945.7 million, up 12.8%, in the 52 weeks ended Aug. 23, according to Information Resources Inc.
P&G has been able to build Bounty's share in recent years despite virtually eliminating trade and consumer promotion for the brand, and at a time when production constraints forced shipments to be allocated to retailers.
Allocations remain, though they have been eased.
PRIVATE LABELS LEAD
The $548.6 million napkin category, by contrast, is dominated by value-conscious brands. Private-label products lead the category with a 27.6% share, according to IRI.
Fort James Corp. is the leading brand manufacturer, with a combined share of more than 30% for its brands ranging from the value-price Mardi Gras to the premium-price Northern and superpremium Vanity Fair.
Contributing: Laura Petrecca.