Mint Marketers Chase Altoids

By Sean Mehegan

NEW YORK–At the National Confectioners Association’s All Candy Expo last week in Chicago, breath mint makers unveiled a range of new products they promised will not just mask bad breath but annihilate it.

The new ‘power mints’ are smaller and more powerful than ever before, following the lead of Altoids, currently the No. 4 breath mint with sales of $23 million last year, according to Information Resources Inc.

Altoids sales jumped 27 percent last year, in part due to a quirky billboard campaign from Leo Burnett, Chicago, featuring such slogans as ‘Go medieval on your mouth.’

Warner-Lambert, whose No. 3 Certs brand did about $62 million in sales last year, recently introduced Certs Powerful Mints with Retsyn. W-L will devote $10 million in dedicated advertising to the new Certs, on top of a $20 million outlay for its Certs Cool Mint Drops. Ads for Certs Powerful Mints break in September via Bates USA, New York. W-L spent $16 million on Certs advertising last year, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

Ragold, which markets No. 6 breath mint Velamints, introduced a concentrated pellet, Intense Velamints, late last year. This year, the company is expanding the ‘intense’ concept by placing the product in 1.4-oz. tins–a nod to Altoids packaging–allowing it to fit in pockets. A limited advertising effort is planned through Cramer-Krasselt, Chicago.

‘We thought, ‘Why not have more of an impulse product?’ ‘ said Ditmar Berberich, product and promotion manager at Ragold. ‘This is the same mint but it’s smaller. . . . It goes in the same direction as Altoids.’

Berberich predicted that the new tin version will catapult Velamints to the No. 5 position, leapfrogging past W-L’s Extra Flavor Certs, an ambitious forecast given Velamints’ $2.8 million in sales last year, versus $14 million for Extra Flavor Certs.

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