Kruger campaign introduces a leaner, meaner paper towel

TV, radio, in-store advertising, public and social media relations push new paper product

There’s a hunky, more toned “Sponge Pocket” in town, and he’s bringing new meaning to the term six-pack abs(orbency).

To promote its new SpongeTowels Ultra Strong paper towels, Kruger Products has introduced a new character to the “Sponge Pockets” mascots that have been its marketing mainstay since 2006.

Ultra Strong is the first addition to the SpongeTowels portfolio since 2009, when the brand introduced EnviroCare, made with 100% recycled fibre. Sold in packs of six and two, Ultra Strong has been in development for approximately two years.

A 30-second spot from Toronto agency John St., “New Guy,” opens on two Sponge Pockets walking into a locker room – one bragging to his counterpart about the messes he cleaned up – when they see a leaner, more muscular Sponge Pocket lifting a dumbbell at the back of the room.

When one Sponge Pocket enquires about the new guy, he’s told by his companion that it’s Ultra Strong, “the strongest, most powerful Sponge Pocket yet.”

A French-language spot developed by Kruger Products’ Quebec agency Havas Worldwide features comedian Francois Massicotte, who has played the character “Spongie” since the brand’s inception.

Wendy Mommersteeg, category director, paper towel, for Kruger Products in Mississauga, Ont., said the Sponge Pocket characters continue to resonate with consumers and help differentiate SpongeTowels from the competition.

“Consumers find them entertaining, and they get across our messaging of being absorbent and strong,” she said.

The TV spot is part of an extensive multi-media marketing campaign that includes radio, public and social media relations, in-store advertising, (including coupons and sampling) and new brand packaging created by Mississauga-based Davis. The new look includes a modernized wordmark and evolves SpongeTowels’ trademark “splash” with a rich blue colour augmented by silver accents.

Mommersteeg said the new packaging is designed to maximize Ultra Strong’s impact at shelf-level, where as many as 70% of paper towel purchase decisions are made.

The paper category is a major grocery battleground, accounting for more than $1.5 billion in annual sales – making it one of industry’s top four categories in terms of dollar sales. Mommersteeg did not provide market share numbers, but called SpongeTowels a “strong Canadian favourite that has been enjoying “steady growth” since transitioning from ScotTowels in 2006.

“I think it’s a great product, a great price point and excellent advertising,” said Mommersteeg. SpongeTowels has won more than 80 national and international awards for PR, sustainability, packaging and advertising.

This article first appeared in Marketing Magazine.

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