Persil Power all washed up

Persil Power, the controversial washing powder, appeared to have been killed off by its owner yesterday when Unilever admitted it was no longer supporting the brand with advertising and was including a £57m once-and- for-all write-off in its annual accounts for unwanted stock of the product.

Some in-store promotions still exist for the ill-starred detergent but all important advertising support such as television and press campaigns have been cut. Industry observers feel the move signals the product's death knell. "It's pretty clear, Persil Power is dead," one analyst said.

Speaking at the company's annual results meeting in London yesterday, Sir Michael Perry, chairman, admitted the episode had been a disaster. "It is the greatest marketing set-back we've seen," he said. "Something was clearly not noticed somewhere but the key is that we don't make these mistakes again." Lessons had been learned and internal processes reviewed. He denied that there would be management changes as a result.

Sir Michael also denied that the removal of promotional support represented a tactical withdrawal for the product. "If the consumer wants it, it will be on sale," he said. However, the company is throwing its notorious marketing weight behind its new baby, Persil New Generation. Most of the £20m Unilever is spending on the Persil brand this year will be targeted at New Generation Persil, a new "everyday wash" washing powder that is reaching supermarket shelves now.

The company said that the controversy over the merits of Persil Power had been centred on Britain and that the product was popular in other European countries such as France.

The removal of support for Persil Power delivers a big boost to rival Procter and Gamble, makers of the Ariel product, in the so-called soap wars. However, with victory in its sights P&G suddenly became coy yesterday. "We would prefer not to comment," a spokesman said. "Our concern was always that the public should be aware of our concerns over this product."

The withdrawal of advertising support is the latest in a succession of announcements that have made Persil Power's future increasingly uncertain.

Earlier this month, a report from the Consumers Association said that even the reformulated Persil Power detergent caused damage to clothes after frequent washing.

Last month Sainsburys, Tesco and Waitrose said they were removing the product from their shelves to clear the way for New Generation.

Unilever looks East, page 34

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Neil Pavier: Management Accountant

£45,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you looking for your next opportunity for ...

Sheridan Maine: Commercial Accountant

£45,000 - £55,000: Sheridan Maine: Are you a newly qualified ACA/ACCA/ACMA qua...

Laura Norton: Project Accountant

£50,000 - £60,000: Laura Norton: Are you looking for an opportunity within a w...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine