Is Your Paper Napkin Stuck Up? Vanity Fair Says It Isn't So

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Here's the task: Make a paper napkin less stuffy.

Paper napkins aren't stuffy, you say? Well, don't tell that to premium priced Vanity Fair. Not only does it compete with cheaply priced private-labels that dominate the category, the brand is also up against the surging paper towel, which convenience-oriented millennials are often using in lieu of napkins, according to a Washington Post report on a 2016 Mintel study. And thanks to its fanciful "engraved" design, many consumers perceive Vanity Fair as a special-occasion splurge rather than a tuck-inside-your-shirt-collar wipe for everyday eating.

"Vanity Fair is going through a transition right now -- it is a brand that has had its foot firmly in formality and we're trying to move it to a more modern, accessible place, while still being true to what the product is," said Scott Vitrone, partner and chief creative officer at Figliulo & Partners, which is lead creative agency for Vanity Fair.

The agency's solution is to play off that elegance equity with an effort that aims to bring a little civility to the chaos of everyday life in its new campaign. The "How Lovely" initiative, which includes four videos, is running across Roku, online, online radio, display ads, social and search. This is F&P's first campaign for Vanity Fair since assuming creative responsibilities for the brand earlier this year. Zenith Media is handling the media buy for the effort.

Each spot shows a man or woman in everyday situations, such as eating devouring or cooking for a large group, followed by he or she daintily dabbing the corners of their mouth with a Vanity Fair napkin. All of the spots end with a butler looking at the camera saying, "How lovely."

"We're trying to make Vanity Fair Napkins, as well as the broader napkins category, more relevant to today's consumer," said Lloyd Lorenzsonn, brand building and innovation leader of napkins at Vanity Fair parent Georgia Pacific. "These are universal situations we can all relate to and [the spots] serve the job of reintroducing the napkins within that context."

In addition to the four videos, Lorenzsonn said the brand and F&P are "batting around" a number of other ideas to keep the campaign alive, including potentially shooting more videos. Vanity Fair plans to heavy up its Instagram and other social media activity around "How Lovely," and Vitrone said viewers may see more of the butler character.

One of the "challenging and fun things" about working on the Vanity Fair assignment, according to Vitrone, was giving a voice to napkins, which are "one of those things that are present every day, but you don't think about."

Lorenzsonn declined to disclose the budget for the campaign, but said the company made an "robust" investment. And it will have to work hard: According to Statista, nearly 92.4 million American consumers purchased store-brand paper napkins in 2016, followed by 56 million who bought Bounty. Vanity Fair came in No. 3 with nearly 30 million consumers purchasing the product last year.

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