Britain: Lowering the Suds

Few British battles have been waged more noisily than the fight for the nation's soap and detergent market. Warring over the $192 million-a-year business, Lever Brothers & Associates Ltd. and Procter & Gamble Ltd. have been spending some $45 million annually wooing housewives with everything from giveaway glassware and plastic daffodils to door-to-door sales calls by costumed "Fairy Snowmen." Now, under government pressure, the war—and the suds-makers—are taking on a new pitch.

Deescalation. Arguing that all the high-volume advertising and promotion is not only unnecessary but also adds about 25% to the...

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