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Benckiser consumer Products had a reputation for stable if decidedly second-tier brands backed mainly by consumer and trade promotion until Jack Weekes and Electrasol Tabs came around.

Under the direction of VP-Marketing Mr. Weekes, 39, the August 1997 rollout of Electrasol Tabs was anything but typical for the U.S. unit of the Dutch consumer products marketer. It was backed by an estimated $12 million-plus TV and sampling campaign from Margeotes/Fertitta & Partners, New York.

Mr. Weekes knew the value of a powerful TV effort.

Besides being "a product that offers unbeatable cleaning performance in a form that's convenient, non-messy and easy to use," Mr. Weekes says, the ads have been essential for a product as new to U.S. consumers as Electrasol Tabs.

He came to Benckiser in 1995 from Bristol-Myers Squibbs Co.'s personal care division. Before that, he had spent five years at ad agencies, including Procter & Gamble Co. roster shop D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, New York, and then jumped to the client side.

When Electrasol Tabs' campaign broke in August, it was the TV spots featuring Lionel Ritchie's song "Stuck on You" that drove home the point that the product removes stuck-on dirt.

The overall Electrasol brand's sales were up 37.6% to $76.5 million for the 52-week period ended March 29, according to Information Resources Inc., based on six months figures since the Tabs rollout. The brand is threatening to overtake Lever Bros.' Sunlight for No. 2 in the $503 million category, behind P&G's Cascade with a 49.6% share.

"A fair amount of consumer education was necessary to let consumes know there's a better way to do their dishes," Mr. Weekes says.

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