HENKEL BRINGS NEW PERSIL TO GERMANY; IGNORES UNILEVER FLAP

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DUSSELDORF-While the Unilever/Procter & Gamble battle over Persil Power detergent rages in the U.K., Europe's No. 3 detergent marketer Henkel is apparently undeterred. Henkel is quietly planning to spend $52 million in Germany to roll out a new detergent that will carry the Persil name-but without its controversial formula.

Henkel owns the right to the Persil name in Germany while Unilever holds the same rights in France and the U.K. Britain is one market where P&G-generated publicity that Unilever's Persil Power rots clothes is running rampant; similar accusations have been aimed at Unilever by P&G in the Netherlands, where the product is called Omo Power.

Henkel last week put out a news release saying the Persil product it markets isn't the same as Unilever's manganese version, even though Henkel's detergent is not marketed in Germany and the ruckus hasn't exploded here. Because the flap hasn't reached Germany, Henkel isn't trying further to distance its product, called Persil Megaperls, from Unilever's.

Henkel is breaking in August a German TV, radio and poster effort from Lowe & Partners to support Henkel's Persil Mega-perls, a brand intended to eventually replace the company's Persil Supra brand in Germany, according to Hermjan van Pelt, product manager.

Henkel won't disclose spending on the new effort, but the company is expected to match the $52 million it spent on Persil Supra last year. Henkel already markets detergents under the Persil Megaperls name in Austria, Switzerland, Spain and Italy.

Unilever, meanwhile, was still struggling to salvage its $300 million in spending for Omo Power in the Netherlands and Persil Power in the U.K. at presstime.

P&G has kept up its relentless media barrage (AA, June 13) while Unilever rushed to reformulate, lowering the amount of manganese in Persil Power.

Unilever last month dropped a suit against P&G, filed in the Netherlands, that alleged trademark infringement and use of untruthful statements. And the Dutch-Anglo conglomerate also isn't changing its U.K. ad campaign (see Ad Review, P. I-23), created jointly by J. Walter Thompson Co., London, and PPGH/ JWT Amsterdam. Lintas Worldwide handles in the rest of Europe.

Laurel Wentz in London contributed to this story.

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