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By Published on .

One of the hottest names in U.S. household products is a long-languishing Procter & Gamble Co. brand recently invigorated by an ad concept that has successfully crossed borders.

After more than three decades as a bit player in a category dominated by P&G's Tide, Gain laundry detergent has become a star performer.

The brand's sales rose 25.3% to $228.6 million in the $4.3 billion laundry detergent segment for the 52 weeks ended Oct. 26, according to Information Resources Inc.


Gain moved from No. 8 to No. 5 in the past year, according to a P&G spokesman, who said the brand's volume share of 6.7% for the quarter ended Sept. 30 was up from only 4.9% a year ago.

Gain's recent success offers perhaps the clearest evidence to date that P&G's strategy of moving successful creative concepts from country to country works.

Last year, P&G broke the Gain "Show & Smell Challenge" ad campaign via Wells BDDP, New York, a concept that originated with Leo Burnett Co., London, for P&G's Daz detergent in the U.K. TV ads show a roving news team "surprising" a housewife with a challenge to check how her laundry smells.

"The brand had declined to such an alarming point over the past 30 years that it was time to either put some discipline and attention and resources into it, or lose it," said Burt Flickinger, consultant with Reach Marketing.


An infusion of ad dollars helped. P&G boosted spending on the brand to $16 million in 1996 and spending this year is on the same pace, with $10.8 million spent through August.

But Unilever also boosted spending in similar fashion behind its Surf, Wisk and All brands last year with far less dramatic results.

Sustaining market share will become more of a challenge in the year ahead. Gain's strength lies in a segment that has been flat. And amid production bottlenecks in its liquid manufacturing facilities, P&G is rationing Gain and Cheer liquid detergents and raising prices on the brands to focus resources on

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