Mouthwash strips get $40 mil push

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[las vegas] Pfizer Consumer Health Care plans a $40 million marketing effort behind the October launch of Listerine PocketPaks portable dissolving mouthwash strips, ranking it one of the biggest new-product efforts unveiled at the National Association of Chain Drug Stores convention last week.

Pfizer will back PocketPaks with TV and print ads breaking in December from WPP Group's J. Walter Thompson USA, New York, with the brand's marketing effort making up about half of the overall $80 million marketing program for Listerine in the next year, said John Baragar, a sales representative for Pfizer.

"This is going to be huge," he said, pointing to stronger-than-expected results for the product in Canada, where it launched in 1999. Because of production problems, Pfizer pushed back a planned 2000 launch until 2002, but has been able to speed up the timetable to the fourth quarter of 2001.

PocketPaks' unusual proposition is that, unlike breath mints and gum, the product kills germs that cause bad breath, Mr. Baragar said, adding that each strip provides up to 90 minutes of breath freshening. Suggested retail prices range from $1.49 to $3.99 for packs with 16 to 72 strips.

Johnson & Johnson plans smaller efforts behind new products aimed at men and women. The company in December will begin shipping Neutrogena for Men, a line of shaving, after-shave and cleansing products that the company projects will reach first-year sales of $30 million. The company plans $8 million in year-one advertising from Carlson & Partners, New York.

J&J's Carefree brand also aims to beat rival Procter & Gamble Co.'s Alldays into the U.S. with a black pantiliner. Carefree Black is expected to reach store shelves in mid-September, with TV and print ads from Interpublic Group of Cos.' Lowe Lintas & Partners, New York, slated for November.

P&G launched Alldays Black in Europe with racy TV ads from Bcom3 Group's D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles earlier this year, but has not announced plans for a U.S. launch yet. J&J also plans a European launch of Carefree Black in August. The two previously duked it out over thong pantiliners last year in their most recent trans-Atlantic new-product struggle.

S.C. Johnson & Son, meanwhile, is preparing to counter another European invasion with the launch of Vanish Fresh-Flush, a two-in-one continuous air freshener and toilet bowl cleaner set to begin shipping Aug. 16, to be backed by ads from WPP's FCB Worldwide, Chicago, expected to break in October.

Fresh-Flush, co-branded with S.C. Johnson Glade air freshener brand, aims to counter an incursion from Sara Lee Corp.'s Ambi-Pur, whose similar two-in-one product has captured more than 10% of the $354 million toilet bowl cleaner market since Sara Lee brought it to the U.S. from Europe late last year.

Kimberly-Clark Corp. showed two new products aimed primarily at senior citizens-Kimberly-Clark bathing cloths, designed to be used by people who can't take baths, or by their caregivers, and Depend Boost, a supplemental insert to be used with Depend disposable undergarments. Both products ship to retailers in mid-September, with ads from Interpublic's Campbell Mithun, Minneapolis, expected to break in the winter.

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