Now that Lever is to launch a “competitor” to Persil Power, in New Generation Persil, it will be a matter of time before the brand is killed off altogether.
The decision to announce the launch of New Generation Persil last week was made to coincide with the launch of rival Ariel Future, Procter & Gamble’s replacement for Ariel Ultra (MW November 4).
P&G claims that the formula for Ariel Future has been in research for five years. Its launch will coincide with the publication of two reports from the Advertising Standards Authority and the Consumers’ Association.
Lever’s marketing director Tim Hammond admits the New Persil brand will eat into the existing sales of Persil Power. “It was a commercial decision, says Hammond. “New Generation Persil uses exactly the same technology as Persil Power except for the manganese accelerator. It is intended to fill the gap vacated by Persil Power,” Hammond adds that 2 million consumers are still buying Persil Power.
Amazingly, New Generation Persil has been in research since November. “It was developed in response to the confusing publicity. We felt the need to put out a new version as quickly as possible to consumers,” says Hammond.
Lever Brothers was forced to reduce the amount of manganese in the powder by 80 per cent after admitting that Persil Power could damage clothes.
“We were forced to reposition Persil Power last June after all of the negative press. It became too niche and it has been replaced by a mainline brand,” says a Lever spokeswoman.
The ASA Report, expected on February 8, is understood to have changed little from the leaked draft document, revealed in Marketing Week (MW December 2) which criticised P&G’s knocking ad.
The Consumers’ Association which is investigating the effects of the manganese accelerator in the reformulated Persil Power, Radion Microactive and Superconcentrated Surf, is expected to find that the manganese accelerator, even at the reduced levels, causes damage to clothes.
Lever has stopped buying further stocks of the accelerator from specialist chemical company Hickson International which had a contract for further supplies on a “take-or-pay” basis until the middle of next year.