The TV and print campaign from Grey Advertising, New York, that broke this month is tagged "Come on in to Downy care," and in the advertising, P&G claims that "new Downy" can prevent fading.
Downy's color protection differs from the carezyme technology introduced in recent years in P&G's Tide and Cheer detergent brands to prevent fading and fuzzing of cotton fabrics. A P&G spokesman said Downy's color protection ingredient is designed to work in the rinse cycle rather than the wash cycle and to prevent hard-water deposits and other impurities from damaging clothes.
Though competitors Lever Bros. and Dial Corp. have since added color protection ingredients to their brands, carezyme helped P&G's Tide and Cheer add several share points earlier in the decade, analysts say. Combined, the two brands held 45% of the $4.3 billion laundry detergent category in the 52 weeks ended Aug. 24, according to Information Resources Inc.
Downy has a commanding 65% of the $748 million liquid fabric conditioner category, but Lever has recently boosted marketing support for No. 2 brand Snuggle, said David Williams, principal with the New England Consulting Group. USA Detergents also has grabbed a 5.9% share of the category in the past year with its new Nice & Fluffy value brand.
Mr. Williams, a former Lever executive, questioned whether P&G may be stretching color protection too thin.
"They may be solving a real consumer problem," he said, "but is it a fabric