Quilted Northern Ads Try New Approach: Candor


Michael Fanuele, chief strategy officer at Euro RSCG in New York, said the shift describes what happens when a brand gets real about its dual image in the marketplace. “Every brand has a dark side, a shadow side, the side people don’t want to talk about,” Fanuele said. “[But] when a brand embraces its shadows, it can become more powerful.”

In the case of Quilted Northern, the brand is tapping into the fact that consumers want advertising—and brands—that are real and authentic. But this still isn’t enough, Fanuele said.

“This [still] feels like old-fashioned packaged-goods advertising,” he said, noting the “perfectly cast, [smiling] women” and the white background. “It feels like a sanitized version of a very unsanitary conversation.”

Added Fanuele: “In a day and age of Family Guy, this isn’t an honest conversation about poop.”       

The campaign, by DDB, New York, is actually the first major push for Quilted Northern Soft & Strong—the company’s premium tier of bath tissue—in more than two years. It follows a period in which the paper products company had mainly been focused on advertising its three-ply Ultra Plush product.

While the latter appeals to “comfort seekers,” Soft & Strong is really for those who want “performance,” Davis said. These consumers  are “really concerned in [the fact that] a tissue is durable and that it holds up,” he said.

The ads also tout a product upgrade on Quilted Northern. Packaging on the new Soft & Strong says that it’s “now 50 percent stronger”—when it’s wet, that is.

The media spending behind this is also significant, Davis said, adding that Ultra Plush was one of the biggest launches to date, but this surpasses that. (Nielsen data shows Georgia-Pacific spent $74 million advertising Ultra Plush from September 2008—when the campaign launched—through June of this year,  sans online.)

The campaign includes print, digital, social media, in-store and “House Party” sampling efforts. Smartphone users can also access a video on why toilet paper should deliver softness, strength and cleaning benefits via a QR code on Quilted Northern products. Edelman and MatchPoint Marketing handled PR, social media and in-store activities, respectively.