Colgate-Palmolive is betting $100 million on a new product launch aimed at dimming the smiles of Crest marketers in the tooth-and-gum battle for a place atop American toothbrushes.
Colgate's new Total is the only toothpaste the Food and Drug Administration has approved as a fighter of gum disease.
Anyone who doesn't know that will find out during the company's largest-ever new-product launch, which began Monday, featuring network television spots, billboards on New York bus shelters, and coupons in major newspapers beginning in mid-January.
"It's going to be positioned as a product that works between brushings to help prevent all of the major dental problems that people are affected with today, which are plaque, gingivitis, tarter and bad breath," Colgate-Palmolive spokesman Robert Murray said.
On Dec. 15, Total entered a crowded $1.5-billion U.S. market for products backed by a dizzying array of claims to make teeth cleaner, whiter, stronger and minty fresh. But analysts say the high-profile campaign should shake up a fickle market led by Procter & Gamble, which launched Crest MultiCare in July.