DIAL PUTS $15 MILLION TO $20 MILLION SOAP ACCOUNT INTO REVIEW

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(May 10, 2001) -- Dial Corp. has placed its $15 million to $20 million bar soap account in review, with six contestants, including the incumbent, Omnicom Group's DDB Worldwide, New York, due to make presentations in Scottsdale, Ariz., this month.

A spokesman for Dial and DDB executives had no comment.

Dial has faced declining sales of its flagship product, with its share down 1.4 points to 12.7% of the $1.4 billion category for the 13 weeks ended March 24, according to ACNielsen Corp. figures supplied by JPMorgan Securities.

In a conference call with analysts last month, Dial Chairman-CEO Herb Baum said Unilever's launch of its value-priced Suave bar soap brand had cut into sales of Dial.

An executive familiar with the situation said Mr. Baum, who became chairman-CEO of Dial in August, spearheaded the review and wants more product-focused advertising. DDB's most recent work for the bar soap brand took a more emotional approach. Bar soap is a core category for Dial, one in which Mr. Baum has said he wants to concentrate new product-development efforts.

Mr. Baum, who began his career with DDB forerunner Needham, Harper & Stears, Chicago, is a former top executive of Campbell Soup Co., where he led the U.S. soup business when the "Soup Is Good Food" campaign was launched in the late 1970s. -- Jack Neff and Laura Petrecca

Copyright May 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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