<%@ Language=VBScript %> <% CheckState() CheckSub() %> How Clorets Cleaned Up: The 'Management' Contribution

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Agency: J Walter Thompson (Manchester) Author: Stephen Williams

How Clorets Cleaned Up: The 'Management' Contribution



People use a variety of products to freshen their breath, but do not like talking about it, and do not like it being treated as a problem.

Breath freshening is a major motivation for buying mints or chewing gum, but the advertisers responsible for big brands never mention it in their advertising.

Clorets was launched in test market in 1988, followed by the South East in 1989, and nationally in 1990.

They were explicitly 'The breath freshener, with Actizol', a unique property that effectively neutralised mouth odours caused by eating, smoking and drinking or, as the ads said, 'neutralised nasty niffs'. It also justified a price premium.

Research showed that a humorous approach enabled Clorets to develop a dialogue with consumers, to alert them to the need for breath freshening and the role of Clorets.

The Two Rons, or 'The Management' featuring Hale and Pace, captured the right tone of 'anarchic, yet good-natured fun'. More especially they, and they alone, linked the comedy of their jobs as bouncers with the job of Clorets: both provided powerful protection.

The advertising produced by J Walter Thompson (Manchester) has succeeded in making Clorets both very well known and very well understood. It is seen as more efficacious than ordinary mints and chewing gum, but less medical than mouthwashes, sprays and tablets.

The advertising has been instrumental in building sales of the brand in an extremely competitive market and establishing a unique positioning.

Most importantly, it has succeeded in broadening the client's business base away from dependence on a highly seasonal brand, Hall's Mentholyptus. This was reflected in the client's change of name, from Hall Brothers to Warner Lambert Confectionery.


Warner Lambert is a major multi-national corporation with interests in ethical pharmaceuticals, consumer healthcare and confectionery.

In the United Kingdom, its confectionery division, Warner Lambert Confectionery, was known until December 1990 as Hall Brothers . It marketed a range of products, but was heavily dependent upon Hall's Mentholyptus, a largely seasonal product, with sales skewed to the winter season and influenced by the level of coughs, colds and sore throats.

To broaden its business base, another brand was needed, of equal size and stature, but without such a marked seasonal bias.

Clorets was identified as a brand that had been successful in many other parts of the world, and that seemed to meet the requirements of the Warner Lambert Confectionery business in the United Kingdom.

Clorets is positioned around the world as a breath deodorant. It is available in a variety of confectionery formats, particularly mints and chewing gum. In many of these markets, the breath deodorant market is highly developed, with brand and product segmentation.


In this country, however, the market was much less developed.

What, precisely, was this market?

If we define it motivationally, then the market consisted of any products that people used, either wholly or partly, to freshen the breath. This definition includes toothpaste, mouthwashes, sprays, tablets, mints, chewing gum, and perhaps even apples and parsley.

If we define the market as portable breath fresheners, then we can largely exclude mouthwashes and toothpastes.

Leaving aside nature's offerings and the small, niche-orientated sprays and tablets (which, nevertheless, were important in terms of providing images which we were keen to avoid). The sprays in particular are seen by the broad market as somewhat sleazy. We are left with mints and chewing gum.

In the mints and gum markets, we were faced with competition from powerful, long-established brands and companies such as Rowntree, Trebor and Wrigley.

To establish a new brand in such an environment presented a major challenge.

What is interesting about mints and chewing gum is that breath and mouth freshening is a major consumer motivation and yet, it is, for the most part, studiously avoided in the advertising of the competitive brands.

Considering the launch of Clorets in the UK then, there is room for debate about whether Warner Lambert Confectionery and J Walter Thompson (Manchester) were segmenting an existing marketplace on the basis of a previously unmentioned, major generic motivation, or whether they were creating a new market for dedicated breath freshening confectionery.

Marketing objectives

The marketing objectives of the launch were:

Advertising objectives

The advertising was intended:


Two stages of qualitative research were conducted, in 1985 and 1986, amounting to 18 group discussions. The purpose was to help position Clorets and to help arrive at an advertising route.

The main problem highlighted by the research was that consumers (rather like the competitive manufacturers) were aware of bad breath, but found it an uncomfortable subject to deal with. There was deep-seated sensitivity, particularly when the issue moved from the abstract to a consideration of themselves individually. There was a strong desire to avoid being associated with the unsavoury imagery surrounding chronic bad breath.

This research also found that certain available routes intended to induce anxieties or guilt would lead to rejection. Attempts to utilise direct presenter, testimonial or traditional quasi-medical problem and solution approaches also failed to persuade the respondents.

The creative problem seemed to centre on the need to find the right language to create a dialogue, and prevent consumers from switching off from a subject they preferred not to think about.


This research helped us to arrive at the creative solution. Two key lessons emerged. The first lesson was that various descriptions used about Clorets around the world sounded wrong to British ears. Thus, we replaced the international term 'Breath Deodorant' with the more acceptable 'Breath Freshener'. We also rejected the term 'Chlorophyll', which is a well known flavour variant around the world, but has misleading connotations in the UK. Instead, we focused upon 'Actizol', which sounded exactly right for the unique ingredient that gave Clorets its breath freshening properties. (This was of critical importance in justifying a price premium, to which we will return later.)

The second discovery was that humour, of the contemporary alternative comedy school, provided the way to open consumers' minds.

The adoption of a humorous route meant that consumers listened to the Clorets message; it helped to make the subject more everyday, less chronic.

A number of humorous treatments were tested in both groups and quantified communication checks. The most promising route consisted of comic duos, which conferred an element of sociability onto the brand.

At this time, late 1987 and early 1988, Hale and Pace were a little known pair of comics, who featured an act called the two Rons or 'The Management'.

In pre-testing, they outperformed other comic pairings, and seemed to offer a highly impactful vehicle for communicating the need for everyday breath freshening and the role of Clorets.

We now had our creative solution, one which we were confident would give Clorets a unique brand personality, which we characterised as 'anarchic, yet good-natured fun'.


Clorets was launched on a phased basis, as follows:

The brand was launched in two forms: boiled mints and pellet chewing gum.

Because Clorets was such a unique proposition, it was considered essential to conduct a regional test market. Lancashire, or more properly the Granada television region, was chosen as a large, broadly representative area of the UK.

The results were very encouraging, and so the test was broadened to include the South East. Performance in the South East broadly repeated the results of the North West and so the brand was launched nationally.


In each of the phases, the media strategy was to use television to create high levels of awareness and, consequently, trial.

The following media schedule shows the achieved level of adult TVRs, and highlights the burst pattern adopted. The campaign consisted of 30- and 10-second spots, in a ratio of three to one in the first fully national year.


1988 Aug Oct Dec
Granada 659 404 579
1989 Apr Jul Aug Nov Dec
Granada 480 437   570  
London   539 395   641
TVS   558 386   491
Anglia   503 468   632
1990 Mar Jul Aug Nov
Granada 578 408   456
London 528 486   524
TVS 567 561   504
Anglia 575 626   430
Central   605 361  
Yorkshire   584 353  
STV   633 450  
HTV   601 372  
TTTV   627 307  
Ulster   665 372  
Border   597 313  
Grampian   667 365  
Sky   690 434  
1991 Jan Mar Apr Jul Aug Sep
Granada   388   469 337  
        436 470  
London   407   458 409  
TVS   392        
Anglia   483        
Central 477   518 412   450
Yorkshire 614   647 556   562
STV 648   634 527   507
HTV 625   538 552   425
TTTV 684   605 513   529
Ulster 639   553 432   448
Border 573   703 594   483
Grampian 676   679 462   525
Sky 656   738 613   602
1992 Jan Feb Mar
Granada 382   427
London 423    
TVS   515  
Anglia 257    
Central 357   388
Yorkshire   460  
STV 443    
HTV 437   374
TTTV 639   375
Ulster 553   408
Border 369   381
Grampian 482   512
Sky 469    
MTV 288    


The only exception to the use of television was a medium-weight six-sheet/adshel poster campaign in Granada in October and November 1991.


Originally, two 30-second executions were created, called 'Battleground' and 'Protection'. 10-second cut-downs were also produced.

While these executions successfully positioned Clorets as an effective breath freshener, some of the attitudinal data collected in Granada suggested that they were too intimidating in tone, and that a slightly lighter tone was needed. Consequently, two further 30-second executions were created, 'GBH' and 'Parrot'. These two executions, supplemented by five original 10-second executions received most of the media investment in the roll-out area. As mentioned, the campaign was also translated into posters, which maintained the use of the two Rons and the same tone of voice.


In the main, the launch was monitored by a combination of AC Nielsen trade audit data and a series of post-burst tracking studies.

The Nielsen data covered the breath freshening confectionery market, defined as mints, chewing gum and Clorets (which was made available as boiled mints and as pellet gum).

Initially, we had foreseen market share as the key measure. This proved very difficult to interpret as the mint and gum markets showed different seasonal patterns.

Chewing gum sales peak in the summer, whereas mint sales seem to peak in the spring and autumn.

Interestingly, sales of the two original Clorets variants were always broadly in line. There was no marked seasonal differentiation on sales. It is also interesting to note that sales of the two variants were not affected by the more important difference between the two markets: the mint market is two and a half times the size of the gum market.

Sales of Clorets showed no obvious seasonal pattern other than a drop in December, when there are other confectionery demands upon income.

As market share was inappropriate, we have concentrated upon volume sales as the most useful measure. Figures 1 and 2 show the growth of volume sales nationally and in Lancashire.

Further evidence of success is provided by cumulative trial and purchase data. If we look only at the roll-out areas following the national launch, we can see high rates on both measures :


  After three months % After six months % After 12 months %

Source: Clorets Tracking Study, Delphi Bureau


Thus, the campaign achieved the high levels of consumer trial and purchase demanded by the objectives.


The brand had not been available nationally for long enough to produce an econometric model for Clorets.

To assess the direct contribution of the advertising presents the customary problems of distinguishing the effects of contributory factors. Let us begin by looking at other factors within the marketing mix:


To look for a more settled pattern, we have to return to Lancashire, the original test market, for which we now have almost four years' data.

With this, we also have an extended period when the brand was not supported by television advertising, from April to December 1991. There was, however, a six-sheet/adshel poster campaign in October and November 1991.

At this time, distribution was relatively stable in Lancashire.


  1991                   1992    
  M A M J J A S O N D J F M

Source: Nielsen



  1991                   1992    
  M A M J J A S O N D J F M

National (minus Lancashire)


Source: Nielsen


It can be seen that in Lancashire, after May (when the last effects of the March advertising may be seen, but also of a distribution gain of four points against March), a flat, perhaps even slightly decaying sales pattern emerges relative to the rest of the country.

The responsiveness of the brand to the two Rons campaign can be seen by the increased sales index in October and November can only be attributed to the poster campaign and (from January 1992 onwards) the effects of the television advertising.


The advertising worked by making Clorets noticed, and by making it noticed for the right attributes.

Post-burst tracking studies monitored how successful the advertising was at building awareness of Clorets. For simplicity, let us look only at the roll-out areas following the national launch:


  After three months % After six months % After twelve months
Spontaneous awareness
('Which products that freshen the breath you can think of ?)
17 23 34
Product awareness
(Brand list)
62 77 84

Source: Clorets Tracking Study, Delphi Bureau


By any standards, these were high scores.

When the brand had been available nationally for just over a year, in August 1991, we conducted a Usage and Attitude survey of the full breath freshening market. This showed that we had successfully positioned Clorets as more efficacious than standard mints and gum, but as less medical than other breath fresheners.

As BMRB concluded:

Clorets is thought to be as fast acting as any of the other brands in the market, and the effects are felt to be fairly long lasting, and on this latter measure it is only surpassed by the mouthwashes and Amplex.

The survey showed that the brand had no stigma attached to it, a key difference between Clorets and other overt breath fresheners. In answer to the question 'Which (brands) are embarrassing to use'; only 2% named Clorets, which placed it on the same footing as popular confectionery brands such as Orbit and Extra Strong Mints. (Mouthwash and tablet brands ranged from 7 to 10%. The main spray brand received 27%.)

The premium image has also allowed price increases to be made in 1990 and 1991, without any noticeable fall-off in demand.


Where, though, did the two Rons fit in to this?

When Clorets were test marketing in Granada, Hale and Pace were relatively unknown comic actors, part of the burgeoning alternative comedy scene.

In a sense, Clorets and Hale and Pace have grown together. They are now, of course, very successful performers with a regular television series.

Both the tracking studies and the usage and attitude survey pointed to the noticeability of the advertising, and in particular how well recalled the central performers were:


Hale and Pace/The Management/Two Rons
Two Blokes/Actors/Comedians

Base: All who remember the ads
Source: BMRB, U&A 1991


This survey also showed the sheer popularity of the advertising. 73% of those who recalled the ads agreed that 'this advertising really appeals to my sense of humour'.

The relevance of the two Rons is revealed by a consumer in a group discussion:

Well, they are the bouncers, they are the protection aren't they. That is what they are there for. That is what bouncers' jobs are. They are there to stop trouble. So Clorets stop trouble in your mouth as it were, that is what they are trying to do, and they are the only two that do that kind of sketch that would fit in, do you know what I mean.

Or as this piece of qualitative research conducted in late 1991 concluded:

There is no doubt that Hale and Pace have created very well noticed and recalled advertising. Hale and Pace are inextricably associated with Clorets. Seeing them is to see the brand.

Source: Consumer InSight


We cannot disclose the financial contribution of Clorets to Warner Lambert, nor look at the issue of investment levels and payback horizons which are of critical importance to a major confectionery launch.

We can, however, reveal that the percentage of sales accounted for by Clorets in the total Warner Lambert Confectionery business in the 1991 financial year was 30%. In the same year, its other major brand accounted for 35% of business. (Prior to the launch of Clorets, 60% of business had been accounted for by this brand. On the back of the success of Clorets the company secured an agency agreement to market the products of a major European confectionery company, which accounted for a further 18% of business in 1991.)

Therefore, the major objective of the launch, to broaden the business base away from reliance upon one brand, was fulfilled.

The strength of the Clorets brand, and the broader effects of the advertising, can also inferred from the fact that a line extension was launched nationally in July 1991. This was a sugar-free mint product which has achieved similar rates of sale to the two standard products.

To quote the entire copy of one of the 10-second Clorets executions:

'Nuff said'.

IPA, Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, London 1992