DIAL REWARDS RENUZIT WITH BRAND CAMPAIGN: CANDLE AIR FRESHENER GENERATES SOME HEAT IN SAGGING CATEGORY

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Dial Corp. will launch its first branding campaign for Renuzit in May, as the success of candle air fresheners lights a fire under the $1 billion category.

Spending has yet to be determined for the TV and print campaign, the first ads not linked to a specific new-product rollout since Dial acquired Renuzit in 1993, said Marketing Director Mark Whitehouse.

INCREASED AD SUPPORT

The campaign marks a "significant" increase in support for Re-nuzit, he said. Last year, the brand received just less than $3 million in ads.

"The scope is significantly different in covering the features of the entire brand and really brand equity advertising, as opposed to product-specific advertising," Mr. Whitehouse said. "It's . . . consistent with what Dial is doing in focusing on its key equities."

The Renuzit campaign will be the first for the brand from DDB Needham Worldwide, New York. The agency picked up Renuzit and several other Dial Corp. brands from Gotham last month.

Candle air fresheners came out of nowhere to become a $130 million segment last year, largely on the strength of introductions from category leader S.C. Johnson & Son's Glade brand and Renuzit. Mr. Whitehouse expects the candle segment to grow another 20% this year.

Driving growth are candles' more pleasing appearance and the fact they're "really the only [air freshener] form where you can walk down the aisle and smell the fragrance," Mr. Whitehouse said.

Much of the appeal, too, stems from the aromatherapy trend in herbal medicine and natural food stores, he said.

Figures from Information Resources Inc. show the air freshener category down 0.4% in 1996, at about $512 million, and Renuzit off 2.8% at $104.4 million. But those figures don't account for much of the candle segment or for sales in specialty stores, where candles have been particularly strong.

24% SALES GAIN

Mr. Whitehouse claims Renuzit sales were actually up 24% last year, a gain driven largely by its Naturals candle business, and by Renuzit Adjustable and Renuzit Solid products. Renuzit sales last year were about $200 million.

Packaged Facts estimates total sales for the category at $1 billion and projects they'll grow about 40% to more than $1.4 billion by 1999, largely on the strength of candles.

Renuzit started with higher-end aromatherapy candles that sold well in grocery and specialty stores, Mr. Whitehouse said, but this year is rolling out a

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