Kleenex sponsors Olympic tears

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Kleenex could be a winner by a nose. When Winter Olympians get teary after seeing their scores next month, Kimberly-Clark Corp. hopes the first thing they-and millions of spectators-think about is grabbing a Kleenex. To that end, Kleenex is rolling out an elaborate integrated print, online and retail campaign designed to draw attention to special-edition Kleenex boxes at the Games.

Kleenex is sponsoring "Kiss and Cry" areas where athletes await judging after ice skating and other events. Though the Salt Lake City Games' "clean venue" rules prohibit brand names, Kleenex, the official facial-tissue supplier to the Salt Lake City Games, will supply special-edition Olympics-themed tissue boxes-sans brand name-on both ends of the benches for athletes and coaches. The same boxes, with the brand name, will be distributed via end-aisle displays in 25% to 30% of U.S. stores. In total, about half U.S. stores will carry the boxes.

"We really wanted to differentiate ourselves from other suppliers and sponsors in being a part of the Games," said Curt Simon, Kleenex product manager. "The obvious fit was the Kiss and Cry area because of the visible emotions athletes display."

Box scores

To lure consumers to in-store displays of the boxes, Kleenex plans two 55-million-piece newspaper freestanding insert drops on Feb. 3 and Feb. 10, each with coupons and game pieces. Consumers bring the game pieces into stores to determine if they've won sweepstakes giving away trips to future Olympics.

Kleenex is giving retailers poster-size versions of "Emotional Moments" magazine ads from WPP Group's J. Walter Thompson, New York, featuring Olympians such as Tara Lipinsky and Dan Jansen.

During the Games, the print campaign extends to USA Today, USA Weekend and the top 10 metro daily newspapers, plus sponsorship of a TV Guide Olympics pull-out section. Kleenex has traditionally used magazines, but the Olympics effort marks its first recent foray into run-of-press newspaper ads.

While Kimberly-Clark has yet to buy TV time for its "Thank Goodness for Kleenex" campaign during game coverage, it expects to once General Electric Corp.'s NBC, MSNBC and CNBC networks make 15-second slots available.

The effort fits into Kleenex's regular marketing budget rather than getting extra dollars, said Gary Keider, North American marketing director. Spending wasn't disclosed; in recent years Kleenex spent $35 million on ads.

"It was very important for me that this had enough legs to go 360 degrees across all the elements we use in marketing," Mr. Keider said. "That made the Olympic opportunity a lot bigger than simply the advertising."

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