Retailers were clamoring to carry the product, the first new over-the-counter analgesic since ibuprofen made its debut a decade ago (AA, Jan. 17).
"This is one of the most rapid distributions of any product launch in the U.S., perhaps the fastest ever," said Tom Moore, P&G's president of healthcare products.
"When we look back on this introduction we'll have some very funny stories to tell about the extra lengths retailers have taken to make sure they had the product," he said.
Some chains sent milk or produce trucks to the warehouse on the first day of shipments, then drove through the night to be the first in the neighborhood to offer Aleve, he said.
Retailers ran the product's debut ads in daily papers across the country last week. The No. 1 supermarket chain, Kroger Co., ran ads in USA Today editions covering roughly half the country.
Those efforts will be amplified by a more than $100 million marketing campaign by P&G, including $60 million in ad spending handled by D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, New York. The Pain Talk consumer education effort, extensive sampling, couponing and a professional marketing campaign via Vicom/FCB, San Francisco, also will support.
The TV campaign, carrying the tagline "All day strong. All day long," will begin before August, Mr. Moore said.
Competitors in the $2.4 billion analgesic market have not been sitting on their hands. Many have stepped up ad spending, and Johnson & Johnson's McNeil Consumer Products Co. last week announced the mid-July launch of Tylenol Extended Relief, designed to last at least 8 hours. An ad and promotional effort will support. The Tylenol brand is handled by Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising, New York.
Tylenol Extended Relief is a direct attack on Aleve, which is using its 8- to 12-hour effectiveness as a major point of difference.
P&G claims Aleve's long-lasting effectiveness makes a daily dose lower priced than any other analgesic, including private labels.
According to Mr. Moore, a day's supply of three Aleve pills costs 30 cents; No. 1 ranked Extra-Strength Tylenol, at eight pills, is 75 cents; American Home Products Corp.'s Advil, at six pills, is 60 cents; Sterling Winthrop's Bayer aspirin, at 12 pills, is 77 cents; and store brand aspirin, also at 12 pills, is 41 cents.
Aleve is a venture with the product's manufacturer, Syntex Corp., which also makes the prescription version of naproxen sodium, Aleve's key ingredient.
Industry observers say P&G expects first year retail sales of $200 million for Aleve; analysts suggest a more modest $75 million to $100 million.