Kleenex Aims to Make Kindness 'Contagious'

Tissue Maker Proposes a Tear-Jerker of a Challenge: Show You Care

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People have long turned to Kleenex to wipe away tears. Now the Kimberly-Clark Corp. brand is trying to manufacture them with a campaign that features people coming to the rescue of others in emotional distress. The tagline: "Someone needs one."

The integrated campaign launched with a TV ad June 8 from a new agency for Kleenex -- VSA Partners Chicago, a former design firm turned full-service agency. The 30-second "Time for a Change" spot shows a little girl, seemingly having been bullied, sitting alone and crying as a school bus empties. A little boy stops by her seat to say: "People think boys are loud and immature and don't care about feelings, but they're wrong." Then he hands her a Kleenex from a Pocket Pack.

A 30-second Spanish-language spot from Omnicom's LatinWorks Austin shows a man making a similar gesture for a woman nearby crying on a train.

Both ads draw on insights from a survey that showed 50% of people in the U.S. say they've missed an opportunity to show someone they cared, said Eric Higgs, general manger-Kleenex brand. "Here's a brand designed to provide care and uplift," Mr. Higgs said.

The campaign riffs off an ad created last year by WPP's J. Walter Thompson New York that showed a man sharing a Kleenex Pocket Pack with a woman who sneezes. She then returns the favor. JWT continues to work on the brand, Mr. Higgs said, but didn't handle this campaign.

Other agencies working on the push include WPP's Mindshare, Geometry and VML for media, shopper marketing and digital, respectively, and Omnicom's Ketchum on PR.

"I don't think care is ever going out of style," said Eric Higgs, general manager, Kleenex brand. "I think this has the potential to be the spark that makes caring contagious."

Initial viewer reaction appears to be strong. The TV ad had 9.2 iSpot.tv effectiveness rating during the first four days of its run, based on the ratio of social-media mentions to estimated dollars spent, well above the 5.4 average rating for the industry.

The broader campaign includes a partnership with Facebook and its Creative Shop Studio to target video ads based on users' demographics, stated interests and time of day. The videos come from "real-time marketing" firm Vimby and capture people's real-life "moments of care," Mr. Higgs said.

There will also be digital billboards and online equivalents via Kleenex.com. In store, Kleenex will promote Pocket Packs with uplifting messages, or spaces where people can customize their packs with a pen.

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