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By Published on .

Procter & Gamble Co. is backing the rollout of improved Downy with an estimated $15 million to $20 million campaign, hoping that color protection technology can do for a fabric softener what it did for laundry detergent.

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

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