Kleen Sweep

What does a sneeze look like?

That’s what art director Mary Anne Infante was charged with creating as a “branding device” in a new series of Kleenex commercials by J. Walter Thompson in New York.

The previous branding device, i.e., the way the logo appears at the end of a commercial, had been the Kleenex logo painted on with a brush, but was deemed too subtle for new ads aimed at making a mark in countries where Kleenex isn’t as ubiquitous as in the U.S.

“Our charge this year was to be incredibly intrusive, make a lot of noise and get noticed,” said Infante. “We decided to make the sound effect very literal and the graphics very evocative, sophisticated.”

Thus, when the logo appears, using the basic blue script that appears on the tissue boxes, there are five different sound effects, including a hard blow, a soft blow, a sneeze, a sniff and a dab. The logo reflects each sound: For the hard blow, the letters blow onto the screen. For the sneeze, they vibrate.

“It was fun to do something very abstract, always staying within the parameters of the type,” said Infante.

Two of the five spots broke last week. The work is running in the U.S., Australia, Africa, Asia and Europe.