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Entering a new area of healthcare, Procter & Gamble Co. is testing custom-shaped, disposable heat pads, called ThermaCare HeatWraps.

To be supported in two test markets by a TV campaign breaking today from D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, New York, the four types of ThermaCare HeatWraps use a specially designed film that warms within minutes of removal from the airtight pouch and will have four applications: back, knee, neck and menstrual cramps.

P&G said the product line will test for two years, beginning in Information Resources Inc.'s BehaviorScan markets of Eau Claire, Wis., and Midland, Texas. Additional markets may be added later, along with direct marketing support.

There are four 45-second TV spots, three dealing with a body part the pads are suited for and one addressing their applications for arthritis; the tagline is "It's heat, it's therapy, it's ThermaCare."

ThermaCare is expected to run about $5.99 for a three-pack. Several of the thin pads have Velcro-like strap to stay attached; the heating action lasts up to 8 hours.

The move is particularly significant for P&G as it represents a whole new product category and major capital outlay, said market observers.

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