Warner will move into natural remedies

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Warner-Lambert Co. will become the first major marketer to introduce zinc and echinacea lozenges, in an attempt to mainstream the booming natural remedies/supplements market.

The marketer will enter the $400 million-plus cough/sore throat drop category with products under its Halls lozenge brand and the Celestial Seasonings name, under license by the tea marketer.

ZINC AS COLD REMEDY

The moves follow recent evidence that zinc eases cold symptoms.

Halls Zinc Defense lozenges will get a $5 million ad campaign from J. Walter Thompson USA, New York. Separate from that, the Halls line will receive $20 million in ad support.

At the same time, new lozenges containing the herbal cold remedy echinacea are being introduced by Warner-Lambert under the Celestial Seasonings brand.

That line, including Ginkgo Sharp, Tension Tamer, Ginseng Plus and others, will get $3 million in separate ad support from Bates, New York.

The entry of Warner-Lambert follows the fast rise last winter of Quigley Corp.'s Cold-Eeze brand, which vaulted to national prominence after a Cleveland Clinic study of the zinc lozenges received much media attention.

Consumers saw results and [zinc products] took off like wildfire," said Tom Aarts, executive editor of Nutrition Business Journal. "The speed with which it took the marketplace was incredible. The big question is, will it have staying power?"

Wal-Mart Stores, recognizing wider consumer interest in these products, is said to be testing in Dallas a store-within-a-store concept that sells supplements and natural remedies.

The retailer did not return calls by presstime.

And another marketer has decided not to let Cold-Eeze and Halls have the market to themselves. Weider Nutrition Group will launch a zinc lozenge called Cold-Free, to be supported by $5 million in advertising produced in-house.

"We'll be fighting it out with Warner-Lambert this fall,' said Jim Hine, Weider VP-marketing. "We did what we thought Halls would do and also did other things."

Cold-Free also will come in spray form to be used under the tongue.

Weider also recently introduced a natural weight-loss product, PhenCal 106, to be supported by $5 million in media spending.

The product, which claims it "helps reduce carbohydrate binging and craving" on the package, is meant to compete with American Home Products Corp.'s popular prescription drug Redux.

PhenCal 106 retails for $18 for a half-month's supply.

"The hottest retail category is [supplements], where most of the ideas are coming from," Mr. Hine said.

The supplements entries were being touted at the National Association of Chain Drug Stores convention in San Diego June 15-18. Among other products debuting at the convention: L'Oreal's Plenitude Futur-E vitamin E skincare line, with more than $20 million in support from Publicis/Bloom, New York.

Johnson & Johnson's Endangered Species shampoo, bubble bath and body wash line, with removable 3-D animal cards on packaging; supported by a $7 million ad campaign from McCann-Erickson Worldwide, New York.

OraBlast chewable breath drops from Breath Asure, which will get $4.8 million in multimedia support. Intermedia Advertising, Encino, Calif., handles.

Maybelline Volum' Express one-stroke mascara and Lip Express lipstick and liner pencil; getting $8.8 million and $2 million, respectively, via Gotham, New York.

Copyright June 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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