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Germ phobia is creating new consumer markets for antimicrobial products, with the latest entries coming from Gojo Industries and Unilever's Chesebrough-Pond's.

Gojo has mounted a $15 million campaign that includes TV and print ads for its Purell Instant Hand Sanitizer, earlier marketed just to healthcare and foodservice workers.

The ad campaign, from Cramer-Krasselt, Chicago, will cover original Purell as well as upcoming Purell With Aloe, Purell Icy Blue Mint and Purell Kid's Own in Berry Blast Hands, Magic Mint Hands and Leapin' Lime Hands.

Other marketing will be sampling and video news releases addressing an increasingly germ-phobic America.


"We believe this will be a $100 million-plus category," said Paul Alper, VP-general manager of the Purell Consumer Products division of Gojo, who added that the company is exploring other categories for the brand.

Instant hand sanitizers require no soap, water or towels. Claiming to be effective against 99.9% of all common germs, Purell is made from 62% ethyl alcohol and a small amount of isopropyl alcohol.

Chesebrough-Pond's is jumping into the fledgling antibacterial segment of the $800 million hand-and-body lotion category with a $20 million launch of Vaseline Intensive Care Anti-Bacterial Hand Lotion With Triclosan, an antibacterial agent. Advertising will be handled by McCann-Erickson Worldwide, New York.

Chesebrough's Vaseline Intensive Care is the No. 1 brand in the category.

"We saw great market potential for a product that spoke to a growing consumer trend-heightened awareness and interest in warding off germs," said Kim Doyle, skincare category director, Vaseline Research.

The product, which claims to work for up to 12 hours and is meant to supplement but not replace hand washing, also moisturizes. Said to protect even after hands are washed again, the Vaseline Intensive Care entry will be backed by sampling in select markets, plus free-standing newspaper inserts and in-store programs.

"In addition to creating educational materials such as pamphlets, posters and stickers," said Ms. Doyle, "we are encouraging magazines and newspapers to help get the word out about good hand hygiene."

That awareness campaign is called "Arm Your Hands for Better Health."


Chesebrough-Pond's is the second player in the segment, following Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.'s Keri lotion. That brand pioneered the business in January with the $20 million-plus introduction of Keri Anti-Bacterial Hand Lotion, which moisturizes while killing germs for up to 12 hours. Gotham, New York, is handling that campaign.

While no results have been released by the company, the launch may have helped Keri sales. For the 52 weeks ended April 27, sales rose 13.2% to $20.3 million, according to Information Resources Inc., as category sales fell nearly a point.

Colgate-Palmolive Co. also is aiming to bring out the first triclosan-based antibacterial toothpaste in the U.S.-Total-pending Food & Drug Administration approval. The product is expected to be introduced by yearend.

Consumer and professional antibacterial soaps are now a $1 billion business, with the FDA now studying the regulation/classification of antimicrobial products.

Contributing: Rick Klein.

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