In the U.K., where the puppy started pitching Scott Paper's Andrex brand in 1972, one in 10 households now owns a plush version of the pup, said Kent Willetts, VP-global advertising for Kimberly-Clark's family care business. Kimberly-Clark in 1996 acquired the Scott brand, and along with it the pup and WPP Group's J. Walter Thompson, London, creator of the campaign.
Thanks to all those ads and plush pups, when Madame Tussaud's polled visitors on their favorite fictional TV character, the Andrex puppy came out on top, prompting the museum to commission the wax likeness, Mr. Willetts said. The pup is now the icon for 11 brands in 30 countries in Europe, the Americas, Asia and Australia.
The puppy has quietly joined a relatively exclusive club of global icons who work across multiple geographies, including the Michelin man, Unilever's Snuggle bear and Procter & Gamble Co.'s Mr. Clean.
It's hard to create a successful global brand icon, said Allen Adamson, managing director of WPP's Landor, New York, but it can be done. "It's challenging," he said, "because you have to find something you can own, that has common meaning and has a benefit that's really highly linked to the brand essence of your product."
Mr. Willetts believes the pup does all three and helps accomplish what would seemingly be a tall order for a toilet paper brand-creating an emotional bond with consumers.
Striving for singularity makes sense on many levels, he said. Because the pup appeals to people globally in largely the same way, K-C can create global ads with relatively little local-market customization required. And as the world becomes increasingly cosmopolitan and immigration rises, money spent winning consumers in one part of the world isn't wasted when they move and find a similarly branded product in their new locales.
The pup has helped Cottonelle to five consecutive quarters of market-share gains in the U.S., including the first quarter, when P&G and Georgia-Pacific began stepping up marketing behind rival brands. Georgia-Pacific's new campaign for Angel Soft, launched earlier this year, targets the brand, using two very non-puppylike wisecracking men in angel suits that G-P hopes may also go global someday.