The idea, of course, isn't to get people to brush less often. Rather, Crest Weekly Clean Intensive Cleaning Paste, which is set to hit stores by mid-September, is billed as a weekly addition to people's daily tooth brushing. The goal is to provide that "just-from-the-dentist," smooth, clean feeling, as P&G and some bloggers who've gotten sneak previews of the product have put it.
Little mass-media spending
Crest, long one of P&G's biggest-spending media brands, with $236.8 million in measured media spending last year, according to TNS Media Intelligence, is also taking a fairly nontraditional marketing approach for the unconventional product, relying heavily on word-of-mouth and buzz marketing and relatively little on mass media.
P&G began sending the product to bloggers earlier this month, some of whom also have Twittered their interest in Weekly Clean. And Crest is using P&G's Vocalpoint buzz-marketing program for moms to spread the word too. It sent a survey about the product's marketing to the more than 600,000 moms in the program last week.
But the product's TV advertising will be relatively light, said spokeswoman Allison Yang, consisting mainly of five-second tags on ads for other Crest products.
The product "is not necessarily intuitive," making TV ads relatively less effective at explaining Weekly Clean, she said.
"What we've seen with research with consumers is that once they've seen it, they tell everybody," Ms. Yang said, another reason for the emphasis on buzz marketing vs. conventional media.
"The feeling you get is so unique, and women especially love it," she said. "A lot of times you come out with a new toothpaste flavor, and it's not something people talk about."
The product uses silica-based crystals similar to those found in Crest Pro-Health but in higher concentrations, leaving "that incredibly smooth feeling you get when you take your tongue and slide it along the front of your teeth after visiting the dentist," Ms. Yang said.
Weekly Clean is used like regular toothpaste, though it comes in smaller tubes. Ms. Yang said P&G isn't concerned any consumers will believe they can now get away with only brushing once a week. "We're emphasizing that the product doesn't have any fluoride in it," she said. "This should not substitute for brushing in any sense."
Expanding the category
Since it's designed to be an addition to what people are doing now, Weekly Clean stands to expand the toothpaste category, but Ms. Yang declined to disclose how much P&G is expecting in year-one sales.
Interpublic Group of Cos.' Devries, New York, handles public relations for Crest, and Publicis Groupe's Saatchi & Saatchi and Starcom MediaVest Group, both New York, handle advertising,and media planning and buying, respectively; Digitas, Boston, handles digital.