P&G brings Synergy to toothpaste

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Responding to a recent boom in premium toothpastes in Germany, Procter & Gamble Co. is introducing a series of whitening and tartar-fighting product improvements to its popular local Blend-a-Med brand.

The new line extension, called Blend-a-Med Synergy, is being rolled into Germany and Austria with a price tag four times higher than regular Blend-a-Med. The product is also being introduced into Italy as AZ Synergy.

Positioned as a tooth whitener that prevents the formation of tartar, the product is marketed in a package that dispenses separate blue and white stripes that merge when squeezed onto to a toothbrush.

D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, Frankfurt, is handling the advertising, including a TV campaign, product sampling and a professional communications program for dentists. The effort is said to be sizable.

WHITENESS AND PROTECTION

The initial 15-second commercial simply shows a product shot and logo. The voice-over says "80% of [German] dentists questioned confirmed that Synergy cleans very well. For white and protected teeth."

A 30-second follow-up spot pitches the product as "the toothpaste that thinks like a toothbrush." Indicating that consumers can have both healthy and good-looking teeth with Synergy, the spot shows a smiling woman with the copy line, "Your beauty or your health -- is that always a compromise?"

Germans are not as obsessed with white teeth as Americans -- yet. The premium-price toothpaste segment has sales of just $22 million, not quite 5% of the $470 million market. But according to ACNielsen Corp., the premium toothpaste segment in this market grew 63% between 1998 and 1999.

That's despite higher pricing for the lines, which sell at $3.30 and up. Synergy comes in at $5, while rival brand Rembrandt, imported from the U.S., tips the price scales at a weighty $10.70 per tube.

P&G is the No. 2 toothpaste marketer in Germany behind SmithKline Beecham, the market leader with a 17.3% share. Blend-a-Med is also marketed in Switzerland and Eastern Europe, where the brand is the market leader.

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