Procter & Gamble Co. later this month will roll out in the U.S. and Germany its ThermaCare portable, disposable heat wraps for relief of back and menstrual pain. The brand initially will be distributed only through medical professionals and consumer-direct channels, via a toll-free number and Web site. P&G is still finalizing plans for "broader distribution'' of ThermaCare, said Tom Blinn, VP-global personal healthcare. "This is a product that can truly improve consumers' lives, and we want to start getting it into their hands as quickly as possible,'' he said. But a P&G spokesman wouldn't comment on whether the marketer will ultimately sell the product through retailers. P&G has previously made its Dryel and Swiffer brands available to consumers via the Web prior to retail distribution and owns a majority stake in reflect.com, a Web site that sells customized beauty-care products online. P&G began test marketing ThermaCare in 1998 through retailers in Midland, Texas, and Eau Claire, Wis., with TV and print ads from D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, New York. The spokesman said P&G has no plans for "major consumer advertising'' at this point, but said the brand would likely be sold through the thermacare.com and pg.com Web sites, and would expose consumers to the toll-free number through yet-unspecified media.
Copyright January 2000, Crain Communications Inc.