Rebranding Charmin: A case study in semiotics

Rachel Lawes
Lawes Consulting Ltd

Neil Blackburne
SCA Hygiene Products


Rebranding Charmin describes the challenge faced by SCA Hygiene Products when it purchased the European rights to Charmin toilet tissue from Procter & Gamble. The conditions of sale included changing the brand name and stripping it of its mascot, which should have resulted in an initial decline in sales, not least because of the strong loyalty of Charmin's core customers. Semiotics helped SCA transform Charmin into Cushelle and exchange the bear for a koala, using sleight of hand that rendered the brand unrecognisable to P&G while migrating loyal Charmin customers from the old to the new brand with remarkable success. This paper includes discussion of the techniques used in semiotic analysis and an assessment of the types of research questions and business problems it is best used for.