Kleenex Promo Lets You Pick ... Your Mom

TV, Web Effort Pushes Tissues During Key Cold and Swine-Flu Season

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BATAVIA, Ohio (AdAge.com) -- People don't get to choose their mothers -- at least until now, thanks to Kleenex.

The Kimberly-Clark Corp. brand is offering mass-customized mothering to a nation gripped by H1N1 angst via GetMommed.com, where visitors can choose from among eight moms either directly or via Facebook-style quizzes. The unusual effort is the centerpiece of the iconic brand's cold and flu season marketing campaign this year.

Ahead of expectations
The campaign, launched last month, has generated about 20,000 registrations for the brand's relationship program in less than four weeks, around 300% ahead of expectations going in, said Dmitriy Kuzin, Kleenex brand manager.

Giving people a choice of mothers is seemingly risky territory, but Kleenex appears not to have stirred controversy yet. Most of around three dozen Twitter comments regarding the campaign so far have been positive, outside of a minority who think GetMommed sounds like a porn site catering to cougar aficionados.

According to Kleenex, it's really about catering to that innate desire for nurturing that people have when they come down with colds or the flu. "Eight in 10 Americans agree their mom has a special way to make them feel better when they're sick," Mr. Kuzin said. "So we thought that we have this opportunity to be like mom and take care of people during cold and flu season with a dose of good humor, because that's what we do in general as a Kleenex brand."

So far, the "Best friend Mom" is the most selected on the site, favored by 25% of visitors, followed by "Sweet Mom" and "Wise Mom."

"The insight is right that people do want to get some extra nurturing," Mr. Kuzin said. "So they tend toward the best-friend mom. ... For some reason, people are not looking for tough love."

High scores for TV ad
The 30-second "Homecoming" TV ad for GetMommed.com from WPP's JWT, New York, shows a man trying out a few of the featured moms before settling in with one. The spot demonstrated the best ability to break through ad clutter and the strongest persuasion scores in more than 10 years of copy tests for the brand and scored in the top 10% to 15% of all TV ads from OTX Research, one of K-C's testing providers.*

WPP sibling Studiocom, Atlanta, created the website, with Mindshare, New York, handling media buying. Naked, New York, handled communications planning, which also encompasses online ads, YouTube webisodes, e-mails to consumers in Kimberly-Clark and Kleenex databases, in-store and in-mall ads including SMS text response.

Those who sign up for the program can get e-mail, texts, phone audio or Facebook messages from the moms of their choice. So far, motivational or confidence-boosting messages are the most favored, followed by advice and weather forecasts.

It's the third campaign in as many years for Kleenex, whose prior efforts have included folks relaying emotional stories on a blue couch in Times Square and other locales in the "Let It Out" campaign and distribution of samples in magazines and newspaper coupon inserts for an improved tissue last year.

Share battles
Kleenex has shed some share in recent years to an aggressive Puffs effort from Procter & Gamble Co. in super-premium tissues and to private label, but Mr. Kuzin said shares were up about two points last quarter over the second quarter, and he believes the new campaign, combined with some improvement in consumer confidence that could help stem losses to private label, can help build that momentum.

Based on research showing people stock up for cold and flu season, when people buy 60% of tissues, Kleenex began launching its main annual campaign effort in October last year rather than waiting for November as it had in years past. It did so again this year, which was particularly fortuitous as H1N1 has created a much earlier flu season.

"Cold and flu season has started much earlier this year," Mr. Kuzin said, "so people are more receptive to the message."

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CORRECTION: An earlier version of this report said Millard-Brown had handled copy-testing for the "Homecoming" spot.

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