Clorox adds an entry in home dry-cleaning

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Clorox Co. will enter the home dry-cleaning kit market with its Clorox FreshCare brand in March, becoming the third player in a category that has been slow to develop.

The product had been incorrectly reported to be an entry by the company into the electrostatic dust-mop category (AA, Dec. 20).

Retail sources said Clorox's new FreshCare entry is aimed at the category being contested by Procter & Gamble Co.'s Dryel and Custom Cleaner, which was acquired last year by a joint venture of Dial Corp. and German household products giant Henkel.

Clorox FreshCare kits will be backed by $15 million to $20 million in TV, print and radio ads from DDB Worldwide, San Francisco, as well as newspaper couponing.

TV and radio ads start April 17, with magazine ads in such titles as People and Good Housekeeping, breaking in June editions. According to sales materials, Clorox expects to reach 82% of U.S. households with TV, 74% with magazine ads and 50% with radio.

PIONEER REPACKAGED

The Dial/Henkel venture has revamped packaging for Custom Cleaner since acquiring the brand from Creative Products Resource. Ads from DDB Worldwide, New York, are expected to break this winter. Henkel, which owns about 25% of Clorox's stock, has a stake in both products' success and is also a DDB client in the U.S. and overseas.

Custom Cleaner has been on retail shelves since 1996, and Dryel rolled national in the U.S. in July, backed by TV, print, radio and outdoor ads from Leo Burnett USA, Chicago.

Dryel sales reached $34.7 million through Nov. 21, according to Information Resources Inc., covering the brand's first four months of distribution. Should that sales clip continue, it will put the brand on pace to top $100 million in first-year sales in the U.S. Dryel is also distributed in Australia, Europe and Japan.

DIAL ROLLING GLOBAL

Custom Cleaner logged U.S. sales of $9.9 million for the 52-week period ended Nov. 21. Dial/Henkel is rolling its product globally even as Dial works to get Custom Cleaner on shelves in much of the U.S.

A P&G spokesman said that with winter dry-cleaning season only beginning, it's too early to make sales projections for Dryel based on sales to date. But initial sales have been slower than for P&G's other recent new cleaning brands, Febreze and Swiffer.

Some retailers said they do expect Clorox to introduce an electrostatic mop this year. Clorox filed a trademark application for Quicktouch, a cleaning implement with disposable cloths, in 1999.

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