Return of the tagline: P&G bets $100 mil on Crest brand plan

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Procter & Gamble Co.'s Crest is preparing to unleash its biggest equity campaign-for the overall brand, rather than a specific product-since the legendary "Look Mom! No Cavities" by Benton & Bowles in the `60s.

The estimated $100 million-plus push is part of a broad movement by P&G to return to memorable taglines that can stand the test of time and will play on Crest's "healthy, beautiful smiles for life" positioning. The effort from Publicis Groupe's Saatchi & Saatchi, New York, has been in the works for years, including when now-defunct D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles handled Crest.

Rediscovering the sort of taglines P&G was once famous for has been a priority for P&G Global Marketing Officer Jim Stengel, reinforced during the P&G trip to the International Advertising Festival in Cannes last year. Jean-Marie Dru, president-CEO of Omnicom Group's TBWA Worldwide, Paris, noted in a critique of P&G's ad reel that the enduring ideas and campaigns of P&G's past were largely absent. He blamed the rampant extensions of such brands as Crest into new categories for making lasting campaigns harder to create.

"We have a major focus on [developing campaigns]," Mr. Stengel said in an interview last week. "But [long-running] campaigns are tricky. When you have a brand that has frequent news and initiatives, it's a challenge."

As P&G executives gathered in New York last week for the induction of former Chairman-CEO John Pepper into the American Advertising Federation's Advertising Hall of Fame, Mr. Stengel used the trip to drive home the campaign message. He and Stephen Squire, director of advertising development, taped a skit on the set of P&G Productions' long-running soap opera "The Guiding Light" that will be beamed to P&G marketers and agency personnel globally on the importance of lasting campaigns.

He and Mr. Pepper cited Pampers' current baby-development-themed campaign from Saatchi as an example of a complex brand with a now 4-year-old theme that helped expand its scope from diapers to a broader "baby care" positioning.

defining a product

Mr. Pepper said campaigns are important beyond simply creating memorable advertising. "When [Publicis Groupe's] Leo Burnett came up with the idea of Secret being strong enough for a man but made for a woman, that did much more than result in a great campaign," he said. "It also defined a product-development platform, product performance, package design, everything-for 40 years. The same is true with Pampers today, starting with the advertising idea of seeing the world through babies' eyes."

P&G didn't disclose creative or spending plans, but the campaign is likely to hit nine figures, as Crest continues to vie for toothpaste and overall oral-care supremacy in the U.S. with Colgate-Palmolive Co. Diane Dietz, marketing director for Crest, said the new campaign will launch during the quarter starting July 1, which begins P&G's fiscal 2005.

Crest spent $222 million through the first 11 months of 2003 across all its products, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR, up 39% compared to full-year 2002, as the brand outspent rival Colgate by more than two to one both years.

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