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Kimberly-Clark tred softly with its Kleenex Ultra tissue.

Marketing of the Ultra brand fell to Marketing Director Bruce Paynter, who oversaw the national rollout of the oil-free, three-layer facial tissue. The aim was to go after the superpremium segment, which K-C says is the fastest-growing in the industry, while competing against established players such as Procter & Gamble's Puffs Plus.

Mr. Paynter's strategy was simple: Softness.

"Softness is the No. 1 attribute influencing consumers' purchase," K-C believes, with more than 70% of consumers citing softness as the No. 1 reason why they buy a particular facial tissue." Citing new research, K-C claims Kleenex Ultra is "the softest tissue" consumers can buy.

Advertising backed up the softness proposition in a first-quarter 1995 campaign from agency Foote, Cone & Belding, Chicago, that used balloons to illustrate the point that a sore nose needs to be treated gingerly. The TV spot was supported with print ads in major women's publications.

Kleenex Ultra turned out to be a blessing to superpremium tissues. Before the brand was introduced in 1993, sales in that segment were only $72.9 million. Within two years, the national introduction of Kleenex Ultra boosted segment sales to $157.3 million.

Information Resources Inc., in fact, pegs sales of Kleenex Ultra at $92.4 million for the 52 weeks ended April 30, 1995, boosting Kleenex's total share of the $1.1 billion facial tissue category to 43.2%.

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