P&G loses in Scandinavia

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Scandinavians are spurning Pampers in favor of a regional disposable-diaper brand whose main point of difference is enchanting advertising by independent Swedish hotshop Forsman & Bodenfors, Gothenburg.

In Sweden, Scandinavia's biggest country, the two-year-old campaign for SCA Hygiene Products' Libero brand broke a market share deadlock of 40% each for Libero and Procter & Gamble Co.'s Pampers through most of the 1990s. Since the first Forsman ads started in 1998, Libero's share of the Swedish diaper market has grown to about 57% as Pampers' fell to about 28%.

"We don't look at diapers any differently than P&G," said Tim Ellis, an American who is Forsman's European account managing director. "We look at kids differently."

One commercial that broke earlier this year actually looks at adults, seen walking awkwardly and uncomfortably as if parodying Monty Python's Flying Circus' "Ministry of Silly Walks" sketch. The message: Your kids will toddle better in Libero's cleverly designed diapers.

"We showed parents what it might look like-and maybe feel like-to use our competitors' diapers that aren't designed for walking," Mr. Ellis said. "Traditional diapers are wide and baggy at the bottom of the diaper, and that forces them to walk funny. Suddenly [with Libero] diapers, these little people can walk like the rest of us."

Other spots tell charming stories about relationships with children that illustrate a core product benefit. In one, a mother wraps her toddler in endless layers of heavy winter clothes and takes him on an adventurous snowmobile ride in the frozen tundra. The commercial ends with the words, "Two things you don't want to do here-run out of gas or change the diaper."

Another commercial highlights how Libero diapers prevent diaper rash in an unusual way. At the beach, a baby gleefully pulls all the diapers out of a diaper bag as his mother sleeps. When she awakes, her whole back is covered with red splotches-except where the scattered diapers have protected her from the sun.

Before SCA hired Forsman, replacing previous agency DDB, Paris, both SCA and P&G used product demonstrations with blue liquid to demonstrate product benefits like absorbency. SCA, a Stockholm-based maker of absorbent hygiene products like diapers and feminine protection lines, had sales of $5 billion for the first nine months of 2000.

Behind the ad campaign's emotional and entertaining focus on kids is an ad agency full of parents. Forsman's Mr. Ellis and his Swedish wife have two small boys, and Libero Account Director Hans Andersson, has three children. Both the copywriter and art director on the effort, Jonas Enghage and Kim Cramer, are parents. "As Hans says, we've been pretty productive at helping Libero expand the market," Mr. Ellis said.

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