OLAY BODY WASH MAY ROLL EARLY

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Procter & Gamble Co. is trying for another Pert Plus.

This time its marketing Godzilla is a new two-in-one body wash under the Oil of Olay brand that P&G will take national this summer, executives close to the company say.

The product has been testing in Spokane, Wash., and was to roll out this fall. But now, P&G is considering moving up the blastoff to blunt the July entry of Lever Bros.' Caress Moisturizing Body Wash.

P&G wouldn't comment. Unilever and P&G are locked in a nasty worldwide battle on all fronts.

Caress will be introduced this summer via BBDO Worldwide, New York, with $50 million in marketing support, including direct mail, samples, couponing, TV and print.

Oil of Olay Moisturizing Body Wash, handled by Wells Rich Greene BDDP, will be backed by an equal amount dedicated almost exclusively to lavish TV, direct mail samples and coupons.

It's the TV commercial that alarms P&G competitors. The 45-second spot tells female shoppers: "Forget bath bars ... Don't even bother with body lotion ... Now, all I use is this ... For moisturized skin no bath bar can touch. Body lotion? I don't even think about it."

Industry executives say Olay, priced near Caress' $3.17 for 8 ounces, is the only body wash product so far to take a dual aim-a simultaneous cleanser and moisturizer-in advertising. Andrew Jergens Co.'s Jergens Refreshing Body Shampoo is positioned as a cleanser and Caress as a moisturizer.

For years, P&G has tried to crack body lotions and failed. But what scares competitors is the success P&G has had with Pert Plus, the combination shampoo and conditioner introduced in 1979 that dominates all other shampoos with a 10% share of the market. At times, Pert Plus has cut into conditioner sales.

If P&G can score with Olay Body Wash, which has had as much as an 8% share in test, it could dramatically cut into both the $1.5 billion bar soap and $750 million body lotion markets.

But that may be a big if. While Olay's message is one of convenience for time-pressed consumers, body washes are currently a tiny $60 million-plus U.S. market (AA, Feb. 7).

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