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New Kruger advertising spotlights life’s messy moments

Paper company eschews from traditional animation to make an emotional connection to customers

Typically toilet paper and paper towel advertising is about cute animations, cuddly animals and light-hearted metaphors about what the products are used for.

Kruger Products—parent company of SpongeTowels, Cashmere, Purex and Scotties—is going in the opposite direction with a new attention grabbing ad campaign that shows in vivid detail why people use its products.

Called “Unapologetically Human,” a minute-long TV commercial that is launching the campaign delivers a fast montage of the many real-life moments when life gets messy. There’s tears and spills, exploding drains, blown-out diapers and bloody noses.

The ad shows very little of the Kruger products, rather the focus is on showing the messy moments that will be familiar, or at least relatable, to many people. By showing those moments, Kruger hopes to create a more emotional connection that will come with brand recall when people go through similar moments of their own.

Aside from the long-form TV ad, Kruger is running shorter 15-second versions on TV and there’s a 90-second version running online. The ads were created by  Toronto advertising agency Broken Heart Love Affair.

The untraditional approach was requested by the chief marketing officer Susan Irving, who took over the post in early March. The company will still do functional advertising that speaks to product attributes and so on, but she felt now was a good time for something more “human and real”—something with more brand purpose.

That more human approach became particularly relevant because of the COVID crisis, said Irving. Like a lot of companies, Kruger had to come up with a whole new marketing plan for the second half of the year when the pandemic hit. At first, the company mostly focused on reassuring people that despite a temporary shortage of household paper products at the start of the pandemic, Kruger had lots of capacity to meet the demand for paper towel and toilet paper, it just needed to catch up.

But, eventually the company needed a new ad campaign that fit the historic period, when so many people have been shaken by the crisis and priorities feel different, said Irving. They’re thinking about their families and safety—very basic human needs. Irving believes people will be more responsive to advertising that shows real and raw moments in life that can often be messy, with the implicit brand message that Kruger will be there to help clean up the mess.

“We may all be very different as humans, but at the end of the day, we all go to the bathroom, we all cry, we all bleed,” said Irving. “So the big flip was instead of talking about the product benefits and making the products a hero, this spot is all about humanity and making consumers the hero.”


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