Tooooo much sizzle – Kleenex

I’m really into Jonathan’s stuff over at Dimbulb . He really is a man after my own heart, sharing many of the same views on what branding should be all about, especially the need for more substance, and less spin. He does a great job of commenting on Kleenex’s attempt to differentiate through emotional branding, or trying to become what Hugo from WTS? calls a "hugbrand".

The Kleenex brand’s "Let it out" campaign  encourages us to let our emotions go, so we cry and, I suppose, use more tissues. The ad
is the one with a bloke on a blue sofa who invites people in the street
to sit down, have a chat and blub on a Kleenex tissue. There is also an interactive site where you can load or watch videos, and read a blog.


Here’s how Jonathan summs up what Kleenex are trying to do:

"Kleenex wants you to describe moments in their lives that prompt an emotion, say joy or sadness, which….
… in re-telling them, moves you to tears and requires a tissue, which…
… in viewing or commenting on them, attaches in your consciousness (or subconscious?) those emotions to the brand, which…
… next time you feel something similar, will reawaken within you, and…
… prompt your desire to blow your schnoz in a Kleenex tissue, which…
…will influence your purchase decision next time you’re in a store…

As he goes on to point out:

"It’s clear that the branding gurus believe people outside the cool AV of boardrooms do things like interact with brands when given the choice. Of course, they don’t. 

They (we) buy things and use things.  Our
feelings about products and services are based far more on the what, where, when, and why of consumption experience."

I do think he has a point. Isn’t this an example of a brand getting a bit carried away with itself and thinking its a lifestyle brand where only emotion matters"? The phrase I used to describe stuff like the blue sofa ad and the associated media-spin offs is "Sponsored entertainment".

[Anyone from Kleenex out there? If so, please let us know the results from the "Let it out" campaign]

Jonathan suggests having a bit more sausage/product would be a good thing, and maybe even going back to "illustrating how other tissues aren’t Kleenex-quality,
like they did back in 1964."  This is the tactic used by Bounty Kitchen towel (the ads with the two blokes dressed as housewives!).

But I’m not sure. This feels like its going from too much emotional sizzle, to not enough. There is a place for emotion in a brand like Kleenex, but it should be used to sell a product story.

The irony is that one of the best examples of a product story told in an emotional way is of course Andrex toilet tissue, which is owned by the same company, Kimberly Clark. The brand’s "puppy" campaign has been used for decades to communicate "soft, strong and very long". Here’s an ad from way back in the 1980’s: