Toilet paper revival


I’ve been seeing a lot more advertising for toilet paper lately. Maybe it’s just a Chicago thing, but these marketers have significantly increased their presence on billboards, bus shelters, and other out-of-home media. I’m guessing this campaign is running in other big markets too, like New York and LA. Cottonelle seems to be the brand that’s driving this, or maybe their ads are just the most effective in getting noticed.

Since consumer demand for toilet paper probably doesn’t change that much from year to year, I wonder what’s behind this sudden increase in outdoor spending. Perhaps they’re emulating the Starbucks approach of encouraging people to indulge in so-called “small luxuries,” which in this case would be softer toilet paper, and outdoor is just one piece of that media plan. Or maybe Cottonelle noticed that none of their competitors had any presence in outdoor media, so they saw an opportunity to be the only toilet paper brand that urban consumers see during their daily commute. They might have purchased a category exclusive for these media venues, locking out the competition.

Regardless of the motivation behind it, their approach is effective — at least where brand recall is concerned. More generally, I think the key here is that people don’t expect to see ads for toilet paper in so many out-of-home locations. This departure from the ordinary, coupled with the sheer volume of messages they’re delivering, provides a good way to take a mundane product and make it front-of-mind for consumers.