You almost have to pity Kimberly-Clark
According to the latest advertising campaign for Kleenex, you stand out by letting it out -- apparently, to a total stranger. Kleenex's "Let It Out" television spots feature an innocuous-looking man standing near a big blue couch on a city sidewalk. As he invites passersby to sit down, the screen text asks, "Are you ready to let it out?" What follows is a montage of people -- old, young, male, female -- sitting on the couch, alone or with a friend or partner, and sharing emotional stories. As people laugh and cry, and words like "tender" and "upset" are heard, a gently uplifting song plays in the background. Finally, the couch-sitters hug the man and look either drained or triumphant.
It's an interesting approach, to say the least. Tissues are generally used to blow your nose or wipe away tears, so it's nice that viewers weren't treated to a montage of sneezing. And the beginning of the commercial is interesting enough to capture the casual viewer's attention (which could be particularly important, since TV commercials will soon be assigned Nielsen ratings).
But the whole concept of an on-the-street therapist seems too odd to make an effective ad. Product advertising has one real goal: increasing the likelihood that a customer will seek out the product, or accept it when offered. In my repeated viewings of "Let It Out," I spent more time wondering exactly how long it took the man's "patients" to go from zero to tears, and why on earth someone would just plop down on a sidewalk couch, than considering the product itself. If Kimberly-Clark really wanted to go for pure emotion, showing family and friends at memorable events -- a baby shower, a wedding, even a funeral -- would have been more effective.
Those criticisms aside, fellow Fool Steven Mallas had a favorable view of the company's most recent results, and felt that Kimberly-Clark remained an interesting investment idea. The dividend yield (now approaching 3%), combined with a 7% uptick in sales, surely piqued his interest.
So perhaps Kleenex really is such a staple product that the brand can afford offbeat advertising -- or perhaps this ad won't make Kleenex stand out from small-k kleenex in exactly the way it wanted.
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Fool online editor Sarah Erdreich does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned above. She is a little scared that her computer kept changing "kleenex" to "Kleenex." The Fool's disclosure policy is always there to listen.