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For Frederick Miller, sealing the lead in a segment his company virtually created means "running as fast we can."

The 46-year-old VP-marketing for Thompson's Co. says it takes a three-pronged approach to marketing the trademark Thompson's Water Seal product: "careful focus against our end consumer; strong investments in our advertising; and product innovation."

It seems to be working: The 15-year-old product holds a 0.5% share of the exterior cleaning and waterproofing market, according to company figures, a share that's continued to grow despite competitive pressures.

Current advertising, from Slater Hanft Martin, New York, features boxer George Foreman and carries the tagline, "Hit the deck with the heavyweights," a break from the company's longstanding comparative campaigns.

Media spending in 1995 was $9.6 million, all of it in television. Over the last few years, the company has been busy leveraging Water Seal's considerable brand equity into line extensions. In 1995, the company rolled out Deck Finish; this year has brought a line of seven products for concrete care and testing pretreated lumber.

"One of the things we have done strategically is to add new products, to in some ways complete our product line," says Mr. Miller, who's been with Thompson's for 10 years. He joined the company after stints at General Electric and General Foods.

"We are never satisfied," he says. "If you stand still, you are actually going backwards because the competition will catch up."

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