Unilever this week launches a global campaign for its home laundry products as it strives to harmonise the image of its brands across markets.

The €75 million ($88m; £54m) push kicked off Monday in Europe and is due to cross the Atlantic by the end of 2003.

Created by Lowe & Partners Worldwide, the campaign uses the tagline ‘Dirt is good’, highlighting children’s enjoyment of activities that get their clothes dirty. The use of an emotional appeal – part of a strategy that has taken five years to hammer out – is a marked change from customary laundry commercials that focus on the technical merits of the product.

Unilever’s lead detergent varies by name between countries – including Wisk in the US, Skip in parts of Europe and Omo in several other markets. However, the new campaign signals an effort to create a consistent global brand image.

The Anglo-Dutch giant has recently struggled to match rival Procter & Gamble’s performance in the detergent business. According to J P Morgan, Unilever’s global revenues from laundry products rose just 2% in the year to March 31, compared with growth of 6% at P&G. Although Unilever dominates many Asian and Latin American markets, it claims market share of just 19% in Europe and 17% in the US; P&G boasts 35% and 60% respectively.

Data sourced from: The Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff