COLGATE READIES $100 MILLION ASSAULT FOR TOTAL: TRICLOSAN TOOTHPASTE COULD BE TOUTED AS MULTIBENEFIT OR GUMCARE

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Colgate-Palmolive Co. is expected to spend up to $100 million on marketing Total toothpaste, making it the company's largest product launch ever.

The introduction is slated for either the end of 1997 or early '98, depending on when full retail distribution is completed. It follows Food & Drug Administration approval earlier this month of the anti-bacterial triclosan toothpaste, which claims to fight gum disease while keeping breath fresh for as long as 12 hours.

$90 MIL FOR ADS

The $100 million effort includes up to $90 million for consumer advertising and professional programs, with the balance in consumer promotions, according to industry executives.

Y&R Advertising, New York, handles advertising; Sudler & Hennessey is expected to provide direct marketing support.

Total, now sold in foreign markets, is currently the only U.S. toothpaste with FDA approval to claim it helps reduce gum disease. And since it is formulated with fluoride and triclosan, it can also claim to help prevent tooth decay, plaque and gingivitis.

There is some internal debate on whether Total should be positioned as a multibenefit product or a gumcare toothpaste. Aggressive gumcare claims could invite objections from competitors, leaving a multibenefit positioning the less risky choice.

SIMILAR TO INT'L ADS

Creative is expected to be the same as or similar to executions used abroad, including one with a ticking clock and another more humorous spot where a patient sitting in the dentist's chair is unable to respond as his doctor tells him he really ought to use Total.

One way or another, Total is expected to affect the competition. Competitive gumcare toothpastes may be asked by the FDA to stop making gum health claims, since their listed ingredients have not yet been recognized by the agency as effective in fighting gum disease.

Among those that could lose out are Unilever's Mentadent Gum from Chesebrough-Pond's and Smith-Kline Beecham's Aquafresh Gum Care.

P&G'S CHALLENGES

Meanwhile, Procter & Gamble Co. faces challenges of a different sort. Sales of No. 1 Crest were down 8.2% to $381.8 million for the 52 weeks ended June 29, according to Information Resources Inc., representing a 25.9% share of the $1.4 billion category.

P&G MAY HAVE TRICLOSAN ENTRY

P&G is studying two moves: a comparative ad campaign focusing on claims and the launch of its own triclosan-based toothpaste. Some years ago, it had to call off the launch of triclosan-based Crest Ultra-since launched in Canada-after the FDA objected that triclosan's use in oral care products had not yet been approved in this country.

Where Total already has been introduced, it has had a powerful effect on Colgate's shares.

In the U.K., for instance, it has built a 14.6% share, boosting total Colgate category share to 32.8%, from 26.8%, according to the company. In Canada, Total now has a 9% share, giving Colgate a 37% category share and making it the No. 1 brand there for the first time in decades, while Crest has dropped to the No. 2 spot.

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