P&G's Bounty sets out to capture napkin lead

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Georgia-Pacific Corp. and Fort James Corp. combined control more than half the $600 million paper napkin category, but they already face a formidable challenge as rival Procter & Gamble Co. aims for leadership with Bounty Quilted napkins.

Following a two-year test market in Charleston, S.C., P&G begins shipping Bounty napkins nationally in mid-September, backed by TV, print and outdoor advertising that breaks in November. P&G will also distribute 12 million samples in such locations as schools, daycare centers and pediatrician offices.

Spending figures weren't disclosed. P&G spent $53 million on its Bounty brand last year, according to Competitive Media Reporting, including $95,000 on napkins in Charleston, a market of 500,000 people. Jordan McGrath Case & Partners/Euro RSCG, New York, handles.

Bounty Quilted napkins, the first printed napkins in the premium segment, became the leading brand in Charleston and helped build category sales there by 15% to 18% without cannibalizing Bounty paper towel sales, said Tarang Amin, marketing director for Bounty. The brand helped turn around the perception that napkins were a commodity product, Mr. Amin said, adding that sampling is needed to convince consumers of Bounty's superior strength and durability.

In anticipation of the Bounty launch, Fort James restaged its Northern napkin line as the premium Quilted Northern brand earlier this year, with an estimated $8 million to $10 million in combined marketing support handled by DDB Worldwide, New York.

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