UNILEVER UNIT HOPES TO SHAKE UP PREGNANCY TESTS: DAVID LYNCH DIRECTS TV SPOTS FOR CLEAR BLUE'S 1-MIN. PRODUCT

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Trying to shake up the $206 million market for pregnancy testing, Unilever's Unipath Diagnostics is introducing Clear Blue Easy One Minute with TV commercials directed by David Lynch.

The $7 million TV campaign from Ogilvy & Mather, New York, emphasizes test speed. Ads broke in seven markets last week and will move to national TV June 30. The effort behind the new product is more than double 1996's $3 million budget for the Clear Blue brand.

"The difference between 1 and 3 minutes is not important," admitted Alastair Paton, Unipath general manager. "What is important is that there's a differentiation."

`INTO MINDS OF CONSUMERS'

Mr. Paton said ads for Clear Blue Easy One Minute were "trying to get into the minds of consumers" by using Mr. Lynch-

known for moody films such as "Blue Velvet" and the "Twin Peaks" TV series-for ads in which "the emotional benefit is resolution of anxiety."

"The existing business wasn't going anywhere," Mr. Paton said. "A lot of price brands came in, and we needed to advertise more."

Unipath also is trying to push retailers to merchandise the category differently, with most family planning products currently near each other.

"What we're about to do is redefine the category as the consumer would like to see it," Mr. Paton said. "Women's products should not be merchandised next to condoms-it's holding back sales."

Unipath began marketing the Clear Blue brand, which includes the Clear Plan Easy ovulation test, in January. Previously the brand had been marketed by American Home Products Corp. for Uni-lever.

A humorous $3 million print campaign behind regular Clear Plan Easy began in February and will run through the fall.

Ovulation test kits, often grouped with pregnancy kits, garner $23 million in sales annually in the U.S.

E.P.T. TOP SPENDER

Warner-Lambert Co.'s e.p.t brand leads media spending in the pregnancy testing category, supported by $10.9 million in 1996, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

It was followed by Johnson & Johnson's Fact Plus, with $8.9 million; Carter-Wallace's First Response received $4.6 million in ad support.

Unipath also is testing a computerized fertility monitoring system, Persona, in seven U.S. cities. The product could be marketed by 1999, pending Food & Drug Administration approval. It is expected to be handled by O&M.

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