By Published on .

Seven years after Procter & Gamble Co. killed White Cloud toilet tissue, the brand name has come back to haunt the giant marketer. Wal-Mart Stores has resurrected the brand for its own premium bath tissue, diapers and possibly other paper products.

White Cloud bath tissue, now manufactured by Scott Paper of Canada, began moving to Wal-Mart stores nationally last month. White Cloud diapers, made by Drypers Corp., also are appearing on Wal-Mart shelves -- and they're backed by TV advertising.


P&G allowed the White Cloud trademark to lapse when it discontinued the product, said a spokeswoman. A company called Paper Partners quickly moved in to claim the trademark and has since registered it for use in a variety of U.S. paper products.

Wal-Mart signed an agreement with Paper Partners this year to license the brand exclusively.

It's ironic that Wal-Mart, a retailer known for its relentless efficiency efforts, has adopted a brand orphaned by P&G for efficiency purposes. White Cloud was perhaps the biggest sacrifice in P&G's effort to streamline product assortment under the banner of the industry's Efficient Consumer Response movement.

"P&G made a serious strategic mistake in taking a brand they spent 20 years carefully nurturing and developing and just . . . throwing it overboard," said Burt Flickinger, managing partner with Reach Marketing.

White Cloud was the leading two-ply bath tissue brand at the time it was discontinued in favor of P&G's single-ply Charmin.

Though several manufacturers have sold smaller brands, industry consultants could remember none that had seen their discontinued brands resurrected later by someone else.


Following Wal-Mart's private-label detergent rollout and decision to drop P&G's Pampers diapers from Sam's Club stores, Wal-Mart's adoption of White Cloud calls into question its special relationship with P&G, said Ken Harris, partner with Cannondale Associates.

Unless "special means losing business, I don't think there's a special relationship with Wal-Mart," Mr. Harris said. "I think it's an ongoing assessment."

Mr. Flickinger said he believes P&G's global partnership with Wal-Mart remains strong, even though the retailer's move toward a more aggressive private-label program leaves P&G, which refuses to make private-label products, out of that business.

The reappearance of White Cloud also could be a warning for P&G rival Unilever as it prepares to cut 1,200 of its 1,600 brands globally to concentrate on marketing the others.

"If Unilever starts discontinuing brands like Final Touch [fabric softener] to concentrate on Snuggle," Mr. Flickinger said, "they're just ceding a meaningful part of the category to Procter on the premium brand side and to private brands

Most Popular
In this article: