CLOROX TRIES FORMULA 409 FOR CARPETS: BRAND EXTENSION IS A TOP PRIORITY

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Clorox Co. is extending its Formula 409 franchise into carpet cleaners with a new $10 million campaign breaking next month.

Clorox began shipping its first entry into the $422 million category last week. The campaign will include TV, print and free-standing inserts via DDB Needham Worldwide, San Francisco.

CATEGORY DOWN 6%

The carpet cleaner category-already crowded with competitors that, like Clorox, have entered from other household cleaning and laundry businesses-was down 6% last year in dollar sales, according to Information Resources Inc.

Sales for Reckitt & Colman's category-leading Resolve fell 4.6% to $101.4 million for the 52 weeks ended Dec. 29, according to IRI. That tumble came despite a new ad campaign last summer from Warwick Baker & O'Neill, New York.

No. 2 S.C. Johnson & Son, marketer of Glade and Shout! brands, was down 0.7% in the category for the year to $67.6 million; No. 3 Church & Dwight Co. saw sales of its Arm & Hammer brand slide 14% to $40.8 million.

Despite the competition, the category could benefit from the strength of the Formula 409 brand name, said one retail manager. The carpet cleaner appears to be one of Clorox's top priorities, he said, along with the company's core liquid and dry bleach businesses.

The strength of Formula 409 was among the factors that helped Clorox pick up 3.7 market share points to reach 40.1% of the $650 million household cleaners category last year, according to Dean Witter Equity Research.

Formula 409 Carpet Cleaner performed well in test markets in Kansas City, Mo., and Nashville, Tenn., a spokeswoman said.

NEW-PRODUCT BLITZ

The entry is part of a flurry of new-product activity by Clorox, which has launched 22 products in the U.S. in the past nine months, according to Carol Warner, analyst with Montgomery Securities.

Last week, Clorox also began shipping a Floral Scents version of its Clorox 2 color-safe dry and liquid bleaches, complementing a successful scented line of its chlorine bleaches launched in 1995. That brand is also handled by DDB Needham, San Francisco.

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