Kimberly-Clark Corporation: Kleenex Anti-Viral campaign

Simone Samano


The Kimberly-Clark Corporation, in business since the 1870s, had long been servicing the sick with its medical supply brands and consumer paper brands. By the first years of the twenty-first century health and infectious illness had become a hot global topic. In 2004 a flu vaccine shortage was predicted for the United States. It was at this time that one of the Irving, Texas, company's top brands, Kleenex, was serendipitously poised to introduce a new entrant into the facial-tissue market. Kleenex Anti-Viral tissues hit store shelves in August 2004 in anticipation of the upcoming cold and flu season. The supporting campaign, released in October, was focused on getting the word out to consumers that the product could help stop the spread of seasonal illnesses.

To introduce Kleenex Anti-Viral to American families, the $30 million campaign used television, cinema, print, radio, and online advertisements as well as education programs, coupon inserts, and public relations. Ad agency J. Walter Thompson New York, part of communications conglomerate WPP Group, was responsible for the campaign. The most widely visible element, a humorous TV and cinema commercial called "Guru," came nearly a year after the product's introduction. In it a robed, spiritual-looking man walked through a scenic landscape. Gentle music played as he was shown saving small creatures from certain death. Back at home he sneezed and grabbed the Kleenex Anti-Viral tissue in front of him, only to be mortified when he saw that the tissue box stated that the product "kills 99.9 percent of cold and flu viruses."