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Dial Corp. will become a new competitor in the $1.2 billion dishwashing category when it unveils two products later this year.

The company by yearend will introduce Dial dishwashing liquid with an anti-bacterial formula and Dial automatic dishwashing detergent, Advertising Age has learned. This is the first time the Dial brand name will be used on dishwashing products.

Both products will be positioned around a germ-fighting theme. Dial claims the No. 1 spot for antibacterial liquid hand soap and apparently wants to leverage that success.

It was unclear whether the automatic dishwashing detergent would have an anti-bacterial formula. If it does, Dial's product would be a first in the $503 million category.

A company spokeswoman would not comment on the product's formula, but said the product's marketing theme would be, "Removes germs from dishes."

The Dial dishwashing liquid with its antibacterial formula will be positioned as a product that "Kills germs on hands and cuts grease." It will be the second "anti-bac" brand on the market. Colgate-Palmolive Co.'s Palmolive Antibacterial is rolling out now with a $13 million marketing campaign from FCB/Leber Katz Partners, New York, this month.

Marketing for the Dial rollout, beginning on a regional basis later this year, will include TV advertising, couponing and in-store promotions.

The Dial spokeswoman said an agency has not been selected from the company's roster that includes DDB Needham Worldwide, LCF&L and Rosenfeld, Sirowitz, Humphrey & Strauss, all New York.

Dial will go up against tough competitors like Procter & Gamble Co. P&G claims slightly more than half of the $706 million liquid dishwashing category with Dawn, the market leader, as well as Ivory and Joy. Colgate has the No. 2 brand with Palmolive, while Lever Bros. has Sunlight and Dove.

The same foes will be encountered by Dial in the automatic dishwashing detergent category.

But the Dial name will give the two new products added ammunition.

"This makes 100% sense for Dial," said Andrew Shore, analyst at PaineWebber. "It's the right move and will probably succeed with the Dial name. It's a great name. Look what they've done in the liquid soap segment with antibacterial. The Dial name means a lot to people. It stands for cleanliness and freshness."

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