'MAUREEN' FLIES SOLO IN AD FOR NEW PHILLIPS' LAXATIVE: BAYER'S MOM CHARACTER APPEARS ON TV SANS HUBBY

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"Maureen," the lead character in Bayer Corp.'s advertising for Phillips' Milk of Magnesia, this week appears in a commercial for the first time without her husband/sidekick "Raymond."

Since early this decade, Maureen has been a shameless promoter of Phillips, with Raymond by her side. But in the effort for new Phillips' FiberCaps she goes spouseless.

Raymond might appreciate that, however, as he's often befuddled by his wife's brazenness in knocking the competition and pitching the brand in the highly personal area of laxatives.

SIGNALS NEW PRODUCT

By using Maureen without Raymond, Bayer is hoping to capitalize on her identity with the Phillips brand while at the same time sending consumers a signal that FiberCaps is a new product, distinct from the flagship MOM.

"The great thing about Maureen is, as soon as you see her on the TV screen, people know it's a Phillips spot," said Tim Southerst, brand manager for the Phillips' franchise. "She is synonymous with Phillips."

Leveraging that brand awareness was behind the decision to launch FiberCaps in the estimated $274 million regimen laxative segment.

With its liquid, tablet and liqui-gel versions, Phillips already leads the estimated $407 million overnight/as-needed laxative segment, the company says. But FiberCaps is its first entry in the regimen business, where consumers take the product regularly rather than only when they suffer from constipation.

With the introduction, Bayer takes on Procter & Gamble Co.'s category-leading Metamucil brand.

"It's huge incremental opportunity," said Mr. Southerst.

P&G'S METAMUCIL THE TARGET

The national TV campaign from BBDO Worldwide, New York, takes direct aim at Metamucil -- a powder that must be mixed in a glass with water -- by positioning FiberCaps as the "clean" alternative since it comes in a caplet form.

"There's no mess," Maureen says in the TV commercial.

Bayer also pitches FiberCaps as more natural because it doesn't contain sweeteners, a similar tack to its "stimulant-free strategy" in the overnight arena.

Recent Phillips' MOM advertising has taken on the competition directly with product shots of the competition, Schering-Plough Corp.'s Correctol and Novartis Consumer Health's Dulcolax. The FiberCaps spot includes several of Metamucil.

FOR THE OVER-50 SET

Like the bulk of laxative advertising, the new effort targets people ages 50 and up.

Spending was not released. Bayer spent $10.2 million on Phillips last year, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

Maureen started out in the early 1990s on a mission to convince her husband about the merits of Phillips. Recently, with him apparently on board, she has taken her crusade to people on the street, with little, if any, compunction about weighing in about her favorite laxative to anyone.

In one recent spot, the more tactful Raymond shakes his head and says, "She

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