DuPont Eschews Advertising in Favor of Tie-ins

DuPont Lycra. Stainmaster. Dacron. Teflon. CoolMax. They’ve got a strong technical heritage—but limited consumer appeal—and want to broaden awareness with a plan that favors partner ties and buzz-building over advertising.

With budgets tight and marketers looking for more accountability for the funds they spend, DuPont’s efforts could create a blueprint for other so-called “ingredient brands” in mature segments.

DuPont’s effort got underway with last week’s formation of the wholly owned $6.5 billion subsidiary, DuPont Textile and Interiors, to house its slower-moving fabrics brands.

Steven McCracken, group vp—DuPont, sees the unit as a balance between innovation and marketing. “Consumers trust our technology,” he said. “How we connect with them is the marketing piece.”

DuPont plans to build its portfolio with a two-pronged approach: leverage core brands by extending their uses, and support partners who use its textiles and technology as ingredients. One initiative calls for the creation of a new Easy Care brand via an alliance with Ciba Specialty Chem ical that will depict Teflon as a technology that repels wrinkles and odor. “Teflon will come to mean more than nonsticking and stain-resistance,” said Carol Gee, global brand director of DTI.

The total marketing effort, which DuPont values at $300 million, includes a New York fashion-services unit offering trend analysis for partners and fashion editors, a fabric library, retail programs and POP. Advertising, how ever, will account for only a small percentage of activities. “We can’t live with just media buys,” Gee said.

For now, partnering with fabric suppliers and designers remains a key focus. Last fall, DuPont Lycra linked with Levi Strauss, Liz Claiborne, Diesel, Armani, J. Crew, DKNY and others in a $10-12 million global TV and print campaign around the theme, “What do you look for in a great pair of jeans?” The work touted Lycra’s freedom of movement, stretch and comfort.