P&G GROOMS PAMPERS STRETCH FOR NATIONAL ROLLOUT

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Procter & Gamble Co. will expand nationally an upgraded diaper called Pampers Stretch.

The product, a replacement for Pampers Ultra Dry Thins, features stretch side panels and a double-fastening system with patented self-seal tabs.

The rollout will begin before yearend; the product began selling in Louisville, Ky., in June.

A 45-second TV spot from D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, New York, went on air last week in Louisville positioning the diaper as the first "with stretchy sides that actually stretch and move with every move." As the lead market, Louisville will have a full range of marketing activity including couponing, in-store merchandising and sampling.

Timing on the national marketing program was not disclosed but typically begins four to six weeks after the product hits the shelves.

P&G has been battling Kimberly-Clark Corp.'s No. 1 Huggies brand, with a 38.9% share in the nearly $4 billion disposable diaper category. This year the marketer offered Huggies Supreme with a Velcro fastener for a better fit.

Pampers, No. 2 with a 25.8% share, had an 11.3% decline in supermarket sales to $962.9 million for the 52 weeks ended July 3, according to Information Resources Inc. Even Huggies sales were down 3% to $1.5 billion.

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