Duracell Takes on Zinc

NEW YORK Duracell, the “Copper Top” battery, is stepping up its fight against zinc.

The Gillette brand this week will launch two 15-second TV spots extending a print and radio campaign launched in December that aims to dispel the misconception that cheaper “heavy duty” zinc batteries offer better performance than alkaline.

As with previous ads, also via Acme Idea Co. in South Norwalk, Conn., the new spots mention rivals Rayovac and Eveready by name. “Rayovac calls them ‘heavy duty.’ Rayovac calls them ‘super heavy duty,'” says a narrator as animation shows the labels being slapped on the batteries. “But when it comes to performance, any heavy duty zinc is a lightweight.” The ad goes on to say that Duracell provides up to four times the battery life of the others. Another ad poses the question: “If they really are so heavy duty, why are they so cheap?”

Boston-based Gillette spends about $50 million annually on ads for its Duracell brand.

Mark Bertolami, Duracell’s vp of marketing, said there was still a high level of confusion about the “heavy duty” moniker. “We believe that it is vitally important to continue to drive home the message that ‘heavy duty’ zinc batteries are significantly inferior in performance to alkaline batteries,” he said in a statement.

Though it is well established that alkaline batteries provide better performance, “heavy duty” battery sales rose to 10 percent of the market from 7 percent a few years ago, per Gillette.