There will be several new advertisers on the Super Bowl this year. One unfamiliar name is Persil ProClean, a brand that will be making a statement with its spot.
Persil is an enormous global business. The washing detergent dates back to 1907 and now has global sales of more than one billion euros. The brand is sold in more than 60 countries. German CPG giant Henkel owns the brand, though in some countries it licenses it to Unilever.
Despite its global presence, Persil is just launching in the United States. Henkel started selling it in early 2015.
The overall strategy is debatable. The U.S. is an obvious opportunity for the brand, with almost $7 billion in category sales. There are three problems.
There isn’t much growth in U.S. laundry detergents. Unilever was so unimpressed with the category’s prospects that it spun off its U.S. laundry detergent business in 2008.
There are a lot of laundry detergent brands and many work pretty well. I suspect few people are actively looking for new detergents.
Giant P&G has about a 60% market share in the U.S., so Henkel is attacking an established and savvy player. P&G will fight hard to protect its position.
Given the overall situation, buying a Super Bowl spot seems like a strange move. One key issue is that the brand doesn’t have great distribution, so a lot of people will have trouble finding it. I couldn’t locate it in my local store this weekend.
Still, this is an important moment for Persil. More than anything, Henkel is making a statement with its Super Bowl ad; the corporation is communicating to retailers, employees, partners and P&G that it is committed to this launch. Andreas Hartleb, the brand’s general manager, made that point very clear in a press release, stating “Persil ProClean might be a new player in the US market, but Persil ProClean means business and is here to stay.”
Attacking a huge, established player like P&G is not likely to go well. P&G will defend and try to crush the new entrant. Still, if you are going to try, a Super Bowl ad sends an important signal. It will certainly take this competitive battle to a new level.
Here is Persil’s teaser spot: