THIS SNAKE BITES FANCY OF SHOPPERS

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D-hiss-appearing.

Black & Decker Corp.'s SnakeLight is slithering off store shelves and into consumers' hands after only two months on the market.

Many retailers already are sold out of the flexible flashlight that can stand on its own, be wrapped around a pipe or even be hung around one's neck to free both hands when working on household or automotive projects.

Because of the flashlight's success, Black & Decker has tripled production and plans to increase next year's marketing budget.

"We see the SnakeLight as a consumer-driven product that we will continue to support really aggressively in 1995," said Becky Bunnell, director-marketing, communications and future products, Black & Decker's U.S. Household Products Group, Shelton, Conn.

Originally Black & Decker planned to spend $5 million-plus on SnakeLight ads through 1995. Now it intends to add $2 million to $5 million more to build on the product's early popularity.

Black & Decker expects up to $20 million in SnakeLight retail sales for the fourth quarter. The product is attracting not only professional mechanics and plumbers, but also do-it-yourselfers.

Also, a lot of customers are buying several at a time, suggesting the item is going to be a popular holiday gift, Ms. Bunnell said.

Ads include one 30-second and two TV 15-second spots, created by McCann-Erickson Worldwide, New York. The spots feature a send-up of "The Wanderer," which plays during vignettes showing different uses for the product that comes in three models-for the home, the workshop and automotive. All retail for about $30.

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