DURACELL, ENERGIZER SURGE INTO NEW TESTERS;NO. 2 BRAND OUT TO BEAT LEADER IN NEW ON-BATTERY TECHNOLOGY FOR ITS PRODUCTS

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It's going to be a hot summer for presidential candidates, Olympic athletes and battery marketers.

Duracell International, leader in the $1.8 billion battery market with a 44% share to Eveready Energizer's 37%, has allowed No. 2 to take the lead in introducing the category's first on-battery tester.

How long the power remains in Energizer's campaign is anyone's guess: Duracell will roll out an arguably superior tester this summer.

DURACELL'S ADVANTAGE

Though Duracell is introducing one battery size to Energizer's three, with other sizes to follow next year, Duracell believes consumers will favor its product, preventing Energizer from coasting indefinitely on sheer momentum.

For the moment, however, Energizer is the irrefutable victor. TV spots for its tester, from TBWA Chiat/Day, Venice, Calif., broke late last month as part of a $25 million summer marketing blitz.

Four 30-second spots and print advertising feature the Energizer Bunny and show consumers how to gauge power remaining in Energizers.

Energizer is considering a celebrity endorser to supplement the Bunny. Magician-comedians Penn & Teller headlined a promotional event in New York in late May. The marketer said it has made no decisions on that.

Duracell will counter with the PowerCheck battery, test marketed in late 1995. Advertising from Ogilvy & Mather, New York, will support once national distribution is completed in July and August.

"We don't want to drag people into stores where the product isn't yet available," said Jill Fallon, director of corporate communications for Duracell.

The marketer didn't indicate the size of the push, saying only that PowerCheck will account for some of its $50 million 1996 marketing budget.

DIFFERENT METHODS

Duracell's thermal "window" readout displays the remaining amount of energy; Energizer indicates only that the battery is still "good" until it's gone bad.

But Energizer offers on-battery testers in sizes AA, C and D from the outset, with AAA to follow. Duracell is rolling out PowerCheck only in the AA version, with AAA, C and D sizes planned for 1997.

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