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With more liquid soaps sitting on sinktops, Andrew Jergens Co. in 1993 decided to loosen the grip of bar soaps on the bathtub.

"We saw an opportunity through innovation to give consumers something new and better than an old-fashioned bar soap and washcloth," recalls Tim Zimmerman, 41, Jergens senior VP-marketing.

Shower gels or body washes weren't new in the U.S., but they had never caught on. Mr. Zimmerman and his multidisciplinary team-Jergens' first-ever to take a multifunctional approach to brand development and launch-thought in terms of a global trend.

In some countries, liquid body cleansers account for up to 86% of the liquid soap category. The problem in the U.S., Jergens determined, was that previous introductions hadn't been well funded and the formulas often left a funny after-feel. Nor were consumers given an applicator to replace their washcloths.

Jergens Refreshing Body Shampoo, complete with hollow-center sponge, scrubbed that slate clean.

Starting in March '94, Jergens drove demand for the pH-balanced, non-soap formula through a $50 million TV and print advertising campaign and direct mail sampling effort. By the second half of 1994, the company was offering a free sponge with any purchase of an economically priced 8 oz. body shampoo.

The body shampoo has raised Jergen's total share of the $2 billion personal cleansing market (including bar soaps and liquids) by two percentage points, to more than 6%. In its first year, the brand was No. 1 in the small but growing $158 million liquid body cleanser market.

Jergens' success has spurred competition-from Lever Bros., Procter & Gamble and Dial Corp., for a total of eight new products since 1994. But Mr. Zimmerman is determined to keep cleaning up in the category with new innovations, such as sponges in different colors, including animal-shaped sponges for kids. It's also extending beyond its original and deodorant formulas with a new moisturizing formula.

His ambitions are evident in the new ad theme from Suissa Miller: "The switch is on."

"Jergens Body Shampoo has set the stage for more things to come," Mr. Zimmerman says.

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