Dan Jackson, Brand Manager, Procter & Gamble Co.

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BATAVIA, Ohio (AdAge.com) -- Recession and oil spills are certainly bad, but they've ultimately helped sell Procter & Gamble Co.'s Dawn dish soap in the past year as the brand that combined innovation, value messaging and doing good to do very well for itself.

Credit: Tony Pettinato
First the recession. It was a boon for dish soap generally as people ate out less and home more. Dish-soap sales rose around 7% last year, according to SymphonyIRI.

But Dawn didn't rise as fast as some value brands and private labels. This summer it began what Brand Manager Dan Jackson calls "value reframing," including ads from Publicis Groupe's Kaplan Thaler Group, New York, and Omnicom's Barefoot Proximity, Cincinnati, pointing out that double-concentrated Ultra Dawn products have twice the cleaning power of non-concentrated products that had been gaining share.

Dawn's average unit price at retail also fell 6% in the 52 weeks ended Sept. 5, according to SymphonyIRI, though Mr. Jackson said price cuts weren't part of the plan. Regardless, sales rose 15% to $257 million on a 22% volume increase.

Dawn's dollar market share was up 3.1 points to 40% and 4.9 points to 41.7% for the 52 weeks and 12 weeks ended Sept. 5 respectively, partly on the strength of a new product launched last year, Dawn Plus Olay Hand Renewal.

A wild card for Dawn this year was BP's massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, which came days after the brand launched the annual campaign around its "Dawn Saves Wildlife" effort. For the past three decades, Dawn has donated enough dish soap to help clean more than 60,000 birds caught in oil spills, but the Gulf disaster put the program under more of a spotlight than ever.

"It is a rare thing to find a cause that direct links back to your brand's core benefit," Mr. Jackson said. "And that's why this has been an ongoing program for over 30 years."

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