CHESEBROUGH SLATHERS ON $70M;VASELINE INTENSIVE CARE AIMS TO BECOME MASTER BRAND

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Chesebrough-Pond's is putting more than $70 million in marketing support behind the Vaseline Intensive Care name, after rivals have begun making some inroads into the No. 1 hand and body lotion brand's share.

The brand has ruled the $965 million category for 23 years. But the Unilever unit slashed Vaseline Intensive Care's support last year by 54.7% to $8.2 million, according to Competitive Media Reporting, while spending was increased to more than $17.5 million on the new Dermasil moisturizers.

For all the support, Dermasil never made it into the ranks of the top 10 hand and body lotions, while Vaseline Intensive Care lost almost a half share point to wind up the 52 weeks ended Feb. 26 at a 19.5% share in food, drug and mass merchandiser outlets, according to Information Resources Inc.

Category sales rose 6.2%, compared to just 3.9% (or $149 million) for Vaseline Intensive Care.

Of special concern to Chesebrough was Warner-Lambert Co.'s Lubriderm, which jumped nearly a point to a 10% share while sales rose 17.2% to $76 million. Andrew Jergens Co.'s namesake brand is No. 2 with 11.5%, down 0.2 points.

"We'd like to continue to stay the No. 1 brand," said Vaseline Intensive Care Marketing Manager Elly Duenk-Minsky.

So this September, Chesebrough will break a $26 million ad campaign for reformulated and repackaged moisturizers. Ads from McCann-Erickson Worldwide, New York, will be supported by $20 million in promotion, including free standing inserts, cross sampling and coupons.

Among the brand's new promises: 12-hour moisturizing from the Dry Skin Formula, the first long-lasting claim in the category, Ms. Duenk-Minsky said.

In October, Chesebrough will fire another salvo, introducing Vaseline Intensive Care Moisturizing Body Wash with $20 million in advertising plus a separate promotion budget.

For Ms. Duenk-Minsky, who wants to build Vaseline Intensive Care into a master brand, the body wash is the right product at the right time. It also takes Chesebrough into direct competition with sister division Lever Bros., which sells body washes under the Dove, Caress and Lever 2000 names. The body wash category itself is hot and expected to grow 58% to $250 million in sales by yearend, accounting for more than half of all liquid soap sales in the personal wash category.

"We want to make the body wash part of the VIC master brand. It brings a new side to VIC and expands what the brand can be," she said.

In consumer testing "it had a positive impact on consumer thinking and how consumers see VIC as a complete range of products. If we see consumer opportunities, we want to do more new products under that master brand," she said.

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