HALLS BRAND WILL MOVE INTO NATURAL REMEDIES

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Warner-Lambert Co. will become the first major marketer to introduce zinc and echinacea lozenges in an attempt to mainstream the booming natural remedies/supplements market.

The marketer will enter the $400 million-plus cough/sore throat drop category with products under its Halls lozenge brand and the Celestial Seasonings name, under license by the tea marketer.

ZINC AS COLD REMEDY

The moves follow recent evidence that zinc eases cold symptoms.

Halls Zinc Defense lozenges will get a $5 million ad campaign from J. Walter Thompson USA, New York. Separate from that, the Halls line will receive $20 million in ad support.

At the same time, new lozenges containing the herbal cold remedy echinacea are being introduced by Warner-Lambert under the Celestial Seasonings brand.

That line, including Ginkgo Sharp, Tension Tamer, Ginseng Plus and others, will get $3 million in separate ad support from Bates USA, New York.

The entry of Warner-Lambert follows the fast rise last winter of Quigley Corp.'s Cold-Eeze brand, which vaulted to national prominence after a Cleveland Clinic study of the zinc lozenges received much media attention.

"Consumers saw results and [zinc products] took off like wild fire," said Tom Aarts, executive editor of Nutrition Business Journal. "The speed with which it took the marketplace was incredible. The big question is, will it have staying power?"

Wal-Mart Stores, recognizing wider consumer interest in these products, has been testing in Bedford, Texas, a store-within-a-store concept that sells supplements and natural remedies, called OneSource. A second unit opens June 21 in St. Louis.

WEIDER JUMPS IN

And another marketer has decided not to let Cold-Eeze and Halls have the market to themselves.

Weider Nutrition Group will launch a zinc lozenge called Cold-Free, to be supported by $5 million in advertising produced in-house.

Cold-Free also will come in spray form to be used under the tongue.

Weider also recently introduced a natural weight-loss product, PhenCal 106, to be supported by $5 million in media spending.

The product, which claims it "helps reduce carbohydrate binging and craving" on the package, is meant to compete with American Home Products Corp.'s popular prescription drug Redux.

OTHER PRODUCTS

The new cold products were being touted at last week's National Association of Chain Drug Stores convention in San Diego. Among other products debuting there:

L'Oreal's Plenitude Futur-E vitamin E skincare line, with more than $20 million in support from Publicis/Bloom, New York.

Johnson & Johnson's Endangered Species shampoo, bubble bath and body wash line, with 3-D animal cards on packaging; backed by a $7 million ad campaign from McCann-Erickson Worldwide.

OraBlast chewable breath drops from Breath Asure, which will get $4.8 million in support via Intermedia Advertising, Encino, Calif.

Maybelline Volum' Express one-stroke mascara and Lip Express lipstick and liner pencil; getting $8.8 million and $2 million, respectively, via Gotham, New York.

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