PLAYTEX TO BACK NEW TAMPON WITH $20 MIL IN AD SUPPORT: GENTLE GLIDE BELIEVED TO BE FIRST OF ITS KIND

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Playtex Products is planning an estimated $15 million to $20 million TV, print and direct-mail campaign to introduce an odor-absorbing tampon that does not use a deodorant -- believed to be the first product of that kind.

Playtex Gentle Glide Odor-Absorbing Non-Deodorant tampons will be launched early next year, with ads from Grey Advertising, New York, breaking in April.

Although Procter & Gamble Co. has a non-deodorant, odor-absorbing protection in Always sanitary napkins, the technology isn't currently being used in tampons. Also, the new Playtex line will achieve odor absorbency through means other than a deodorant.

Playtex officials would not disclose marketing budget or how the technology would work.

AMBITIOUS CAMPAIGN

The campaign will be ambitious, including network spots on Fox's "Melrose Place" and daytime dramas such as "General Hospital," plus extensive print ads, according to sales materials.

Playtex also will distribute 1.5 million samples via mailings; 550 million for-sale samples for retailers; and 6 million in-store coupons. Playtex will distribute 160 million coupons through newspaper free-standing inserts and Catalina Marketing Corp.'s Checkout Coupon system.

Playtex Products' dollar sales were off 3.6% to $166 million in the 52 weeks ending Sept. 28, according to Information Resources Inc. It trails P&G's Always and Tampax brands and Kimberly-Clark Corp.'s Kotex brand in the $1.7 billion feminine protection category.

Both P&G and K-C have been devoting more attention to the category of late. P&G acquired Tampax marketer Tambrands and launched two new products for Always in the past year. K-C by June will conclude a review of its global feminine hygiene

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