Warner scraps Clifford in fresh Listerine push

Warner-Wellcome has axed Clifford the dragon from its Listerine mouthwash advertising, after 12 years promoting the brand.

The dragon has been replaced in a new campaign, whose stars include Fred Flintstone and cartoon cat Tom.

The 1.7m push uses Tom Jones singing the pop hit “Kiss” as a backing and will be accompanied by a 250,000 nationwide sampling campaign. J Walter Thompson, the agency behind the Clifford campaign, also created the new work.

According to Warner-Wellcome senior product manager Lisa Palillo, Clifford was not putting across the right image. “People just equated him with bad breath. Listerine’s plaque control and other dental values were not coming through,” she says. “The audience saw him as a funny dragon and that was not the way forward.”

The ads mark a change in marketing direction for the company which will now target a younger audience, says Palillo. Previously most sales came from the over 30s. The campaign is expected to appeal to 17-year-olds upwards.

Clifford’s departure is also a move to halt declining share in the mouthwash market. Although Nielsen yearly figures to March/April 1995 show Listerine has a 21 per cent market share by value, market share is being taken by rivals Macleans and Plax.

Plax, made by Colgate-Palmolive has about 14 per cent of the market.

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