Upstart dry clean brand targets Dryel, FreshCare

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A new product for home dry cleaning, Dry Cleaner's Secret hopes to outperform better-funded rivals from Procter & Gamble Co., Clorox Co. and Dial Corp.--in laundry rooms and possibly on store shelves.

Dry Inc., a start-up headed by former Kimberly-Clark Corp. and DowBrands executive Scott Heim as president, expects by September or October to launch 30-second TV spots and 60-second radio spots for Dry Cleaner's Secret in 17 U.S. markets. Bates Southwest, Houston, handles.

IN 10,000 STORES

The brand should be available in about 10,000 stores representing about two-thirds of retail sales in those markets by September, Mr. Heim said. Radio will include 5-second tags promoting retailers.

Newspaper coupons and sampling for about 300,000 households also are planned for the week of July 27, mainly on the West Coast. Spending wasn't disclosed, but will hinge on sales and distribution, Mr. Heim said. It's likely to be far less than that of P&G, which spent $34 million on its Dryel advertising last year, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

Dry Inc.'s TV spots claim the product uncovers the secret hidden by a furtive dry cleaner and tout the product's superior ability to remove oil-based stains, such as makeup and greasy food, when compared to other home-dry-cleaning products. While the ads don't mention rivals by name, sample kits distributed to retail buyers show Dry Cleaner's Secret removes lipstick stains better than Dryel, Clorox FreshCare and Custom Cleaner, owned by Dial and German consumer products giant Henkel.

Custom Cleaner is currently part of an ad review--including the Purex Advanced brand marketed by Dial/Henkel--now at DDB Worldwide, New York.

Water-based cleaners, such as in P&G's Dryel kits, can set oil-based stains, making them harder to remove and causing colors to run on acetate, the fabric that makes up about 15% of women's dry-clean-only garments, Mr. Heim said. Dry Cleaner's Secret in June picked up an endorsement from Celanese, the leading maker of acetate fabrics.

Single-sheet packs of Dry Cleaner's Secret, enough to clean four garments, sell for less than $2, compared to $7.99 for a Custom Cleaner starter pack and $9.99 for Dryel and Clorox FreshCare, each enough to clean 16 garments.

A six-sheet box of Dry Cleaner's Secret retails for about $8.99.

Dryel, launched nationally in September, had $93.8 million in sales during the 52 weeks ended June 18, according to Information Resources Inc., compared to $12.1 million for Custom Cleaner, which was introduced in 1996, and $5 million for Clorox FreshCare, which rolled out in January.

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