Is Kleenex More Than Just a Tissue?

When you first start monitoring social media conversations, it’s like drinking from a fire hose.  There are lots of new information coming at you, and you have to decide how to respond to all of it.  This can lead to some mishaps as brands learn, but sometimes, it is downright ridiculous.

Take a look at these three frames of a banner ad I saw recently on

So, what’s the point of this ad?  Certainly, it isn’t to get us to buy Kleenex.  Instead, it’s designed to get us to remember “Hey, Kleenex is a brand, not a generic term for any tissue.”

But it doesn’t work.

Take a look at the current Twitter search results for Kleenex, and see how many times anyone refers to Kleenex in any other way besides a generic term for tissue, except when there’s a coupon involved.

I can imagine what happened to get to this ridiculous point:

Digital Marketer: Here are the social media results for Kleenex

Execs: Woah!  Brand erosion is much worse than we thought…look at all these conversations that just equate us with any old tissue!  We have to remind everyone that Kleenex is a brand.

Digital Agency: We can do a banner campaign that really reinforces the message that Kleenex is a registered trademark.  That will help move the needle!

All this does is make the brand seem out of touch.  Instead of acting defensive, Kimberly-Clark could have turned the issue on its head by asking users to submit a video demonstrating when having a Kleenex brand tissue really makes a difference.  You’d get real stories of touching, important, emotional moments from real people talking about what the brand means to them.

Instead KC comes across as Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino – a grizzled old man yelling at the neighborhood kids to get off his lawn, while the kids don’t even notice because their iPods are turned up too loud.

Remember that a social approach is about inviting people to come closer to you – not pushing them away.