DRYPERS DIAPERS, WIPES JOIN IN ANTI-GERM WARFARE: LAUNCH TO BE SUPPORTED WITH $10 MILLION FALL AD CAMPAIGN

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Drypers Corp. is betting anti-bacterial products can do for diapers and wipes what they have for other categories -- turn consumer phobias about germs into share gains.

In category firsts, Drypers is rolling out Drypers Supreme With Germ Guard and Antibacterial Wipes With Germ Guard, backed by an estimated $10 million TV and print campaign from Suissa Miller, San Francisco, breaking in October or November.

Drypers Supreme, which will have silver packaging, adjustable grip tabs and 10% to 15% added absorbency over its regular diapers, is also the marketer's first entry into the growing superpremium segment, which now accounts for about 20% of the $3.8 billion diaper category.

MOMENTUM

Drypers is trying to maintain momentum from last year's product upgrades and new ads, which boosted sales 17.2% to $131.6 million for the 52 weeks ended June 28, says Information Resources Inc.

A P&G spokesman said the company will closely watch whether Drypers' claims for its antibacterial diapers are backed by evidence and whether the company needs to register the new use of triclosan with the Environmental Protection Agency.

Antibacterial agents will help prevent diaper odor and create new uses for wipes, such as cleaning changing tables in public restrooms or toys in daycare centers, said Terry Tognietti, president and co-CEO of Drypers.

Germ-fighting should be a bigger draw in wipes than diapers, said David Olsen, VP-marketing, and could make Drypers more of a player in a $560 million wipes category, where it currently has sales of less than $1 million.

A GROWING ROLE

First launched in hand soaps in the late 1980s, antibacterial products have played a growing role in more categories lately.

"The closer these products are to the human body and skin, the more interested consumers are going to be," said Barry Shepard, VP-marketing of AcuPOLL Precision Research, a concept testing service. "Germ warfare continues to be a big and growing trend."

The active ingredient in the Drypers line is triclosan, however, which a new study from Tufts University found might create antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

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