Merry Christmas, dear; please clean the house

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Some folks may clean up in the holiday gift exchange this year, as package-goods marketers try positioning their seemingly pedestrian products as presents.

As Clorox Co. rolls out gift packs of its Armor All car care products aimed at auto enthusiasts, Procter & Gamble Co. and Clorox are making sure there's a gift of cleaning products available for the domestic-minded.

Via, P&G's online Web and e-mail newsletter venture with, P&G is offering a sweepstakes wherein entrants can win a gift box of household cleaning products -- or the chance to just buy the pack for those who can't stand the suspense. For fulfillment, P&G is using, a Web site offering gift packs of P&G and non-P&G products aimed at what the company estimates is a $30 billion market in the U.S. for gifts priced less than $25. P&G is also offering gift certificates for Pampers diapers.

Not to be outdone, Clorox is rolling out its own "Easy Cleaning Kit" to conventional retailers, including Wal-Mart Stores and Target Stores. Arriving just in time for the holidays, the kit bundles 10 of Clorox's home cleaning products in a plastic-overwrapped carrying case priced at $19.99.


What gives with turning household products into gifts? "Most people have either given or gotten a gift that goes unused at some point," said Craig Wynett, general manager for P&G's corporate new ventures-new product development group. "We're offering consumers a solution to that traditional `throwaway' gift category through"

A P&G spokesman said MoreThanACard remains a low-cost test, though it's generally available to consumers today. P&G promotes the site on the home page of corporate site and also has promoted it primarily through mailings to retirees and shareholders, aside from the link to

No broader, media-backed rollout for MoreThanACard is in the cards for now, a P&G spokesman said, noting that the company's main emphasis is on building share for its 10 top global brands. "It doesn't really fit P&G's strategy as we've known P&G's strategy in the past," he said. "We like to operate primarily through the retail chains."


P&G, however, is selling through retailers a $20 version of the HomeMadeSimple gift box that come with a brochure tagged "Solutions for easy living" that offers homecare and cleaning tips. The gift box program is an extension of P&G's HomeMadeSimple relationship marketing program that includes an e-mail newsletter and direct mail offering tips and solutions for homecare and cooking that use its brands.

"The gift thing can be a sampling device for the company," said Tom Vierhile, general manager of Marketing Intelligence, a Naples, N.Y., new-product tracking service. In fact, P&G's HomeMadeSimple pack includes a box of Bounty paper towels in a pop-up tissue-style cube that isn't expected to roll nationally until some time next year. "If all the cleaning brands started doing this, it would get out of hand," he said. "But if you're the first company that's doing it, maybe there's room for it."


In fact, there's not room for it in many food stores and drugstores. Clorox's Armor All gift packs, priced from $14.84 at Wal-Mart to $20 at Target, are aimed at mass merchandise outlets, club stores and supercenters. A supermarket buyer said he's skeptical of the bundling concept. "Most women have individual brands they want to buy," he said, "not the whole product line of one company."

But Mr. Vierhile said he's seen a growing number of gift and sampler packs in more areas beyond the traditional food and cosmetics. Among the more interesting -- a $9.99 Valentine's Day gift pack called "Sensations" from Ansell Healthcare Products that bundles chocolate candy and LifeStyles condoms.

One inspiration for package-goods marketers may be the bath-and-body store channel, where an ever-changing assortment of gift baskets is among the strongest sellers, Mr. Vierhile said.

Indeed, "Elegant Escapes," a basket that combines Oil of Olay skincare and cosmetic products with an aromatherapy candle, has been the top seller among gift boxes at MoreThanACard so far, a spokesman said. Other popular packs include "Away From Home," a cleaning and laundry care pack for college students, and "New Arrivals," a pack of diapers and baby wipes. Another "new pet" pack bundles pet food and treats with Febreze fabric refresher and Swiffer electrostatic dust cloths. All packs come with 10-minute phone cards so the receiver can thank the sender.


While most of the gift packs are unadvertised, P&G is trying a different and more aggressive tack with Pampers, launching magazine ads in women's and parenting magazines from D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, New York, last month, along with radio ads to promote gift certificates sold on the site. While rival Kimberly-Clark Corp.'s Huggies brand also sells gift certificates and P&G's Luvs brand also tested the concept, Pampers is the first diaper brand to advertise a gift program. Gift certificates, redeemed through retailers, are denominated in one-, three-, six- and 12-month supplies priced from $44.99 to $429, and also come with a baby wipes travel case and a Fisher-Price toy.

"Never returned or regifted," promise P&G's print ads.

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