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Stung by Unilever's Mentadent-the peroxide, baking soda and fluoride toothpaste-Church & Dwight will field Arm & Hammer PeroxiCare this August with $45 million in marketing support.

Procter & Gamble Co. is also readying a new toothpaste called Crest Gum Care for a Charleston, S.C., test starting June 27. Priced at a 35% premium over regular Crest, the toothpaste will be touted for "gingivitis, gum protection and fighting cavities." It contains an ingredient called TheraMint as well as a patented stannous fluoride.

Wall Street analysts regard Crest Gum Care, handled by D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, New York, as yet another competitive response to Mentadent.

"P&G prides itself on technology," said PaineWebber analyst Andrew Shore. "Crest Gum Care will either be a technological improvement on baking soda and peroxide or a place holder until they can get a triclosan product to market."

P&G is awaiting Food & Drug Administration approval of triclosan, an antibacterial gumcare ingredient already used overseas.

Church & Dwight VP-Marketing James Barch refused to comment on PeroxiCare, but retail executives said network TV and print advertising from Partners & Shevack is scheduled to start in September with $10 million in spending through the end of the year; another $20 million is being budgeted for 1995.

The brand will also be supported by $1-off coupons as part of a $15 million promotional budget.

Industry executives say Church & Dwight's Arm & Hammer Dental Care baking soda toothpaste had been holding its own, with what Nielsen Marketing Research pegged as a 9.2% share through the 52 weeks ended Feb. 19. Crest remains the market leader with more than a 33% share.

"However, in the last several months, [Arm & Hammer has] dropped off," said one competitor. "Year to date, they now have an 8.2% share vs. 10.3% last year at this time, and in the last month, they have gone as low as 7.8%."

Mentadent, meanwhile, is branching out beyond its original formula. In late August, the Chesebrough-Pond's division of Unilever will begin a $35 million introduction of Mentadent Tartar Control, as expected. Lintas will handle advertising.

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