Duracell Ultra

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Rick Anderson, who claims to have copper-and-black blood, knows the importance of timing.

In 1998, the then-VP-marketing for Duracell North America recognized that consumer demand for high-tech electronic devices had caught up with Duracell's ability to create longer-lasting batteries.

Mr. Anderson, 40, shook up the battery category by introducing a premium product, Duracell Ultra.

In 1999, he added a marketing charge, and the product sales exploded, reaching $399 million in worldwide sales, according to Duracell figures. The marketer says '99 sales were more than double those in 1998.

Mr. Anderson, now VP-global business management for Duracell, credits the advertising campaign and the tag, "The most powerful alkaline battery in the world."

"The power metaphor is an execution format that's working beautifully," he says. TV commercials from BBDO Worldwide, New York, in which trains, meteors and bulls burst into the battery cell, support the power positioning, which "was born out of the desire to give Ultra an identity all its own."

Ultra not only answered a demand but created one, he says. His new business model predicted better batteries would lead to the manufacture of improved electronic devices, which would engender more portable lifestyles and result in the demand for more batteries. "Ultra's the really big idea," he says.

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