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Today Sponge Hopes That Fifth Launch Will Be the Charm

Mayer Laboratories announced it will relaunch the Today Sponge, the contraceptive made famous by a Seinfeld episode. The launch is at least the fifth in the history of the brand, which has had at least four different corporate owners.

Today is thus the Maltese Falcon of the pharma business -- many have chased this macguffin, believing it contains unparalleled riches, only to later abandon the hunt in despair, bankruptcy or FDA-ordered factory closures.

Here is a potted history of the little brand that has never made much money but nonetheless continues to entice entrepreneuers who think that consumers' unaided recall of the Seinfeld episode make it a sure thing. The images show the many redesigns that the box has been subjected to.

1983: The brand launches under the aegis of American Home Products.

1994: AHP was acquired by Wyeth, which took Today off the market after the FDA cited manufacturing problems at its factory.

2000: Allendale Pharmaceuticals, acquires the brand and relaunches the product with a $3 million print ad campaign.

2005: Allendale Pharma, tries again, this time with a $6 million campaign.

2005: NuvaRing launches -- similar insertion device but with the contraceptive power of the pill. Brand now at Schering-Plough.

2007: Today is acquired by Synova Healthcare. Package redesigned with more of a chick-lit sensibility, product given its fourth launch.

2007-2009: Brand is transferred to Mayer, which states: "the recent interruption of distribution was not the result of product quality or consumer demand, but was due to the previous owner, Synova Healthcare Group, filing bankruptcy."

2009: Launch No. 5, this time with yet another package redesign, in turquoise.

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