P&G BACKS PAMPERS DIAPER WITH $8 MIL LAUNCH CAMPAIGN: LUVS ULTRA BABY WIPES ALSO GET $5 MIL ROLL OUT FROM BURNETT

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Procter & Gamble Co. is discontinuing its Pampers Gentle Touch baby wipes but will roll out a diaper line extension with the same name.

The marketer will replace the wipes with new Luvs Ultra Thicks, being introduced next month.

The launch of Pampers Premium disposable diapers with Gentle Touch liner will be backed by an estimated $8 million TV, print, direct mail, sampling and couponing effort from D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, New York.

REVAMPING PROGRAM

The Gentle Touch diaper is part of a P&G program that includes revamping features and claims for Pampers while shuffling its baby-wipes lineup.

Overall, its diaper business lost more than 4 share points in the category within the past year.

Pampers Gentle Touch wipes was rolled out this past winter but largely rejected by mass merchandisers. The company also is discontinuing its lower-price Wash-A-bye Baby brand wipes, acquired from K-C last year.

Luvs Ultra Thicks will be rolled out in August with an estimated $5 million TV campaign from Leo Burnett USA, Chicago, breaking in October.

Luvs wipes will seek to carve out a middle ground between premium brands and private label, as Luvs already does in diapers.

Luvs diapers have been a relative bright spot in the $3.6 billion category for P&G, rebounding 2 share points to 12.3% from two years ago. But P&G has been slipping since rolling out a host of product improvements and a move to unisex Pampers last year.

Pampers Premium with Gentle Touch has aloe and two other skin-soothing chemicals. P&G also is adding a new claim that the core of its base Pampers brand lowers pH levels inside the diaper and thus reduces risk of diaper rash.

NEW CLAIM ON PACKAGING

The claim initially will be used only on packaging, a spokesman said. P&G executives have discussed incorporating the claim in ads but made no decision yet, he added.

After briefly overtaking Kimberly-Clark Corp. for overall category leadership in the first quarter of 1996, P&G has slipped 4.2 points behind Kimberly-Clark's 41.4% share for the 52 weeks ended May 25, according to Information Resources Inc.

P&G has been under attack from above and below. Kimberly-Clark added a quiltlike outer cover to its base Huggies product earlier this year. Then No. 3 marketer Drypers added aloe and duplicated other features found in premium diapers in its value brand, offering the same improvements to private-label customers (AA, May

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