Listerine is trying to reinvigorate the market for teeth-whitening products, which took the market by storm six years ago but waned in popularity because the early products were expensive and difficult to use. Now Johnson & Johnson is introducing a second-generation product, Listerine Whitening Quick Dissolving Strips, which dissolve within five and 10 minutes. With regular use, Listerine says, a $24 box of them will produce whiter teeth and fresh breath within two weeks. A 30-second television spot for the product started last week on broadcast and cable networks. Created by the New York office of JWT, it opens with the words, "Tell Us Where You Whiten," and shows people milling at a house party. The ad, shot in a bumpy home-video style and framed by the screen of a camera phone in parts, follows a young woman as she arrives at the party, opens her bag to show the whitening strips, and narrates the product's attributes while bumping into friends. "You can talk and all anyone sees is your pearly whites," she says. Listerine Whitening, a growing division of Listerine, is also sponsoring ABC's Good Morning America concert series as part of the promotion. White teeth remain a national obsession, according to a Gallup poll conducted for Listerine. The results indicate that 72 percent of consumers want whiter teeth, but only 25 percent have ever tried a whitening product. Listerine describes this product introduction as one of the most significant in the brand's 100-year history. Listerine is aimed squarely at loosening Crest's formidable grip on the business. The top three sellers in the whitening category are whitening strips from Crest, a unit of Procter & Gamble, that command about half of sales volume. Whitestrips, which were Crest's breakout product, effectively introduced modern teeth-whitening products in 2001. Sales in the category - which includes other brands like Aquafresh White Trays, from GlaxoSmithKline - rose to $333-million in 2003, but have steadily declined, according to the Chicago-based Information Resources.
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