The Clorox Company (US)

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The Clorox Company is a leading US manufacturer and marketer of household care and other products. The group controls a mixed bag of different brands, but it is best-known for its namesake bleach, also extended into numerous other cleaning products and devices. The Clorox brand celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2013. The group also owns plastic bag and wrap brand Glad, and has more recently pushed into the "green" products market through the acquisition of natural personal care range Burt's Bees and the launch of earth-friendly cleaning range Green Works. Oddly, Clorox also still controls a small collection of grocery products including top-selling salad dressing Hidden Valley. For several years, the group was part-owned by German group Henkel, but that relationship was terminated following the latter's acquisition of Dial. 

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Recent stories from Adbrands Weekly Update:

Adbrands Weekly Update 28th Apr 2016: The Clorox Company ended its 20-year association with DDB, dividing creative and digital duties for all brands between FCB and Dentsu Aegis Network, mainly McGarryBowen. FCB will take over all the company's cleaning products, as well as Glad food wrap and trash bags. McGarryBowen gets a collection of lifestyle brands including Burt's Bees cosmetics, Kingsford charcoal and Brita water filters. However it won't handle Clorox-owned salad dressings Hidden Valley and KC Masterpiece, because of a conflict with its existing assignments for Kraft. Those will handled by a separate Dentsu Aegis unit, still to be confirmed.


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Background

Free for all users | see full profile for current activities: The Clorox Company was founded in 1913 near San Francisco as the Electro-Alkaline Company, with the aim of using the salt ponds of San Francisco Bay to convert brine into industrial bleach. It named its new product after the two substances which form the main ingredient of bleach, chlorine and sodium hydroxide. However the company initially struggled to make headway until the wife of general manager William Murray, who also ran a family grocery store, suggested that they begin producing a diluted version of their bleach for household use. Initially, William & Annie Murray gave samples away free with other purchases at the grocery store, to be used as a domestic laundry aid, stain remover, deodorant and general disinfectant. This proved a huge success, and sales spread rapidly across the country. In 1921 the company went public as The Clorox Chemical Company. The brand quickly gained national recognition, and maintained a reputation for high quality. During World War II, when chlorine supplies ran short, the company resisted the temptation to dilute its core product as other manufacturers had done, instead simply limiting production. As a result, Clorox had become the market-leading bleach by the mid 1950s. 

In 1957, the business was acquired by Procter & Gamble as a complement to its own fast-growing laundry and cleaning business. However that purchase was subsequently challenged by US regulators and ten years of litigation followed. Finally, P&G was forced to comply with the findings of the FTC and The Clorox Company was spun off to shareholders in 1969. Newly independent once more, Clorox began a series of acquisitions, commencing with Liquid Plumr drain cleaner in 1969. Its biggest purchase to-date was First Brands, makers of Glad, STP and Scoop Away, acquired in 1998 for $2bn in stock. 

In 1974, Henkel acquired a 15% shareholding in Clorox, subsequently increasing that holding to 29% by the end of the 1990s. The two companies shared technology and processes, but ultimately drifted apart when the US company declined the invitation to sell out. Instead Henkel acquired rival household care manufacturer Dial in 2003. Clorox regained Henkel's 29% stake in 2004 in exchange for $2.1bn in cash and a small group of non-core brands including cleaning products Soft Scrub, the insecticides Combat, Home Mat, and Home Keeper, which are now marketed by Henkel's US subsidiary. As a result, the company reported record net earnings in 2005 of almost $1.1bn as a result of a one-off gain on the transaction. 

A year later, Clorox president & CEO Jerry Johnston suffered a heart attack and stepped down from the group. He was replaced by Donald Knauss, formerly president of Coca-Cola North America.


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