NOVARTIS BREAKS $12 MIL EFFORT FOR NEW TAVIST SINUS: COMPETITION HEATS UP AMONG ALLERGY, COLD REMEDY BRANDS

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With the allergy and cold season in full swing, Novartis Corp. is revitalizing ad spending behind its Tavist brand, extending it into sinus treatment.

A $12 million campaign broke last week for Tavist Sinus, the company's first product introduction since it was formed through the merger of Sandoz and Ciba-Geigy 10 months ago.

New Tavist-D advertising will hit Nov. 24; both efforts are from Jordan, McGrath, Case & Taylor, New York.

40% SPENDING INCREASE

Senior Brand Manager Al Baumeler said the campaigns are part of a 40% media spending increase behind the brand, expected to receive $24 million in total support this year.

While significant, that spending still will trail Warner-Lambert Co.'s for Sudafed and Benadryl, at $33.5 million and $30.8 million in 1996, respectively, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

Tavist spending is, however, on a par with American Home Products Corp.'s Dimetapp, which received $25 million last year.

The Tavist effort comes as competition intensifies in the allergy/

sinus and cough/cold categories, representing more than $2.4 billion in combined sales.

American Home today breaks an estimated $6 million network TV spot for Robitussin cough drops from D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, New York. In the spot, a museum guide's cough knocks down a dinosaur skeleton.

Ads behind McNeil Consumer Products Co.'s just-introduced Children's Tylenol Sinus and Children's Tylenol Allergy-D are expected to hit by November, from Saatchi & Saatchi's Healthcare Connection. The Children's Tylenol brand was supported by $25 million last year.

PUSH FOR ALKA-SELTZER PLUS

This activity comes on top of an estimated $35 million campaign that recently broke for Bayer Corp.'s Alka-Seltzer Plus cold/flu brand from BBDO Worldwide and an estimated $8 million Warner-Lambert campaign for Sudafed from Bates USA that broke last week (see Page 62).

For the 52 weeks ended Aug. 24, Sudafed managed a 10.3% sales increase in the cough/cold category to $107.9 million, but fell 0.8% in allergy/sinus to $50.1 million, putting it behind Tavist, according to Information Resources Inc.

Novartis, however, needs to stop Tavist's double-digit sales fall in the sluggish $633.9 million allergy/sinus category.

IRI reported the No. 3 brand down 17.4% to $58.8 million, while Benadryl enjoyed a 40.9% increase to $61.4 million, roughly half of leader Tylenol's $118.9 million.

FUELING MAJOR BRAND

"There have been a number of product introductions that have fueled a lot of the major brands-that's what we're doing," Mr. Baumeler said. "I expect [Tavist Sinus] to reach [the original Tavist's] introductory sales level in the next four to five years." That 1993 figure was about $100 million.

The Tavist move is part of an overall effort by Novartis to reinvigorate its key

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