New SpinBrush line backed by $30 mil

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Procter & Gamble Co. executives claim they've made manual toothbrushes obsolete with the $30 million launch later this month of Crest SpinBrush Pro, a slightly pricier version of the value-priced power brush.

Despite the price-under $8 vs. under $6 for the original SpinBrush-consumers rate Pro a better value in tests because of a host of improvements, claimed Darin Yates, Crest toothbrush brand manager.

Pro, which hits stores in late September, is the first dual-action brush in the disposable battery-powered segment, he said. Like more-expensive rechargeables, it has a second head that moves side to side in addition to SpinBrush's original rotating head. Pro also has a sleeker look and ergonomically designed handle aimed more at adults than the original SpinBrush.

TV ads to break by early October from Bcom3 Group's D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, New York, show a dentist's polishing tool morphing into A SpinBrush and promise a "dentist-clean feeling" between trips to the hygienist. The campaign also includes print and out-of-home ads.

More than eight out of 10 consumers who've tried SpinBrush Pro rate it the best toothbrush ever, said Shekhar Mitra, global manager of research and development for oral care at P&G.

"These are by far the best results we've ever seen with a toothbrush," Mr. Mitra said. P&G's goal is for SpinBrush ultimately to render manual toothbrushes obsolete. Brash as it sounds, trends are in that direction. Power dental accessories grew 21.8% to $418 million in the 52 weeks ended Aug. 11, according to Information Resources Inc. SpinBrush, up 75% to $76.4 million, accounted for most of that growth. Manual brush sales, meanwhile, declined 8.1% to $487 million.

Pro is the first SpinBrush developed entirely in-house since P&G bought the product from startup Dr. Johns for $475 million in 2000. Pro took only a year to develop, easily beating cycles for simpler manual brushes.

The holidays helped push Pro out the door faster, too. Last year, Crest discovered some consumers giving as many as 40 SpinBrushes as stocking stuffers. This year, SpinBrush joins new Crest Rejuvenating Effects toothpaste for women in holiday gift sets, and P&G plans to improve on last year's first-ever holiday ad campaign for Crest.

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