Kleenex: The Saga of a Super Brand

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Case Details:

Case Code : MKTG198
Case Length : 17 Pages
Period : 2006-2008
Pub Date : 2008
Teaching Note :Not Available
Organization : Tourism Australia
Industry : Consumer Packaged Goods
Countries : Europe/USA

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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"[Kleenex is] encouraging the addition of the term "tissue" or "brand tissue" to their name. It's the "Kleenex brand" of tissues; tissues being the generic term. They clearly spent plenty of money just to define the category and protect their brand name. This should serve as a good example to start-ups out there who think they want their name to become generic. It's a good problem to have in the beginning. But it's also a problem you never want to have once you're big and famous!"1

- Aaron Hall, Project Director, Catchword2, in 2008.

"The idea behind the 'Let It Out' campaign is to try and create an emotional affinity between the consumer and Kleenex tissues. By establishing this emotional bond we hope to make the tissue much more than just a product but rather an indispensable aid to help people let their emotions out."3

- Mark Zander, Marketing Manager for UK and Ireland, Kleenex, in January 2007.

"This is a company that claims to be a leader on the environmental front. Unfortunately, when you dig into the claims, you come up with a very different story."4

- Richard Brooks, a Greenpeace5 Campaign Coordinator, in 2006.

Winner's Curse?

In December 2006, Kimberly-Clark Corporation (Kimberly) started a new campaign called 'Let It Out' for the promotion of its tissue products super brand Kleenex. Kleenex was the brand name used for several of Kimberly's products such as facial tissues, bathroom tissues, paper towels, and diapers. It was introduced in 1924 and had remained at the top position in the facial tissue market since then. Kimberly had introduced several innovative products under the Kleenex brand and had adopted good promotional strategies to keep the brand in the number one position.

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1] Aaron Hall, "Kleenex Fights Being Generic," www.catchthis.com, June 25, 2008.
2] Catchword is a brand name development company in the US.
3] "Kleenex to Let It Out with Starrfadu," www.duncans.tv, January 10, 2007.
4] Marc Gunther, "Are Kleenex Tissues Wiping Out Forests?" www.money.cnn.com, September 27, 2006.
5] Greenpeace is a noted environmental activist group founded in 1971 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. It main objective is to oppose the testing of nuclear devices by the US in Alaska. But it later expanded its focus to other environmental issues like deforestation, genetically modified food items, whaling, global warming, nuclear power, etc.


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