The goal of three TV spots for e2 -- a titanium-based, superpremium battery designed to last up to twice as long in high-drain devices such as digital cameras and mini CD players -- is to demonstrate power via real human activity and feeling. The effort, set to break July 31, is from DDB Worldwide, Chicago.
"There's nothing more powerful on Earth than the human spirit and human emotion," said Jeff Ziminski, Energizer's director of U.S. marketing.
One spot shows a man diving off a 3,000-foot-high Venezuelan cliff with a parachute. The only sound in the ad is the rushing waterfall in the background and the air whirling around him as he falls. Screen copy reads, "Power this daring. Now available in a battery." The tagline: "Take power to the next level."
SIGHTS ON NO. 1
Energizer, lagging leader Gillette Co.'s Duracell, hopes the e2 launch will also bring the company to the next level. No. 2 Energizer had a 30.7% share of the $2.6 billion battery market, following Duracell with 44.3% and ahead of Rayovac Corp. with 13.0% for the 52 weeks ended June 18, according to Information Resources Inc.
"Obviously we're not happy with our current position," Mr. Ziminski said. "We want to continue to grow the business."
Analyst Farah Saeed at Frost & Sullivan said "high-strength alkaline batteries are expected to account for up to 60% [of the battery market] by 2002, due to the usage of high-drain applications."
Duracell claims it created the premium segment in 1998 with its launch of Duracell Ultra, designed, like e2, to last longer in high-drain devices, and positioned as "the most powerful alkaline battery in the world."
Duracell Ultra, the No. 4 battery brand and the only premium product in the top 10, reached $208 million in sales for the 52 weeks ended June 18, a 125.7% increase over the previous year, according to IRI.
Duracell will launch its third-generation Ultra with M3 -- more fuel, more efficiency, more power -- in September, followed by new ads from BBDO Worldwide, New York.
New creative will be "very close" to current Ultra ads, said Rick Anderson, Duracell's VP-global business management. "We have been very, very pleased with the power metaphors we have been using," including TV ads with trains, meteors and bulls bursting into battery cells. "Power is a very successful strategy, but only when it's linked to the concept of long-lasting," Mr. Anderson said. "I don't know if it will work for [Energizer]."
`A COMMON CLAIM'
Power is "a common claim these days by other competition, Duracell included," said Paul Brourman, senior VP-group creative director at DDB. But other battery marketers "are claiming power in a physical sense. The e2 ads show "power in a different sense -- raw, emotional power," Mr. Brourman said. "It turns the whole power proposition on its ear."
Another e2 spot shows children, unscripted and undirected, giggling as they play on a merry-go-round. The third spot shows the intensity of semiprofessional football players on and off the field. Supers in the two spots read, "Power this alive" and "Power this intense," respectively, followed in each spot by: "Now available in battery." Three print ads running in August monthlies such as People, Rolling Stone and Wired supplement the TV, slated to run on broadcast and cable networks.
Mr. Anderson said Energizer's entry into the premium category validates Duracell's strategy with Ultra, adding that e2 is "a case of imitation being the greatest form of flattery."
NO `ME-TOO' EFFORT
"We didn't do a me-too of Duracell Ultra," Mr. Ziminski said, since e2's name; "high-tech, futuristic" design; resealable package; and product features make it a "whole new class of battery" that is "not just Energizer plus."
DDB won the e2 business in January, after a review including incumbent TBWA/Chiat/Day, San Francisco, which will keep going and going as the agency for the flagship Energizer brand, supported by the Energizer bunny. New bunny ads are slated to break sometime in the fall, Mr. Ziminski said.