Scotties: it's what's outside that counts

Sustained Success (BRONZE)

Client Credits: Kruger Product LP
Nancy Marcus, Corporate Vice President Marketing
Oliver Bukvic, Category Director - Facial Tissue
Cindy Chen, Marketing Manager - Facial Tissue
Alex Amon, Director - Market Research

Agency Credits: john st.
Angus Tucker, Co-Creative Director
Stephen Jurisic, Co-Creative Director
Nellie Kim, Associate Creative Director, Art Director
Chris Hirsch, Associate Creative Director, Copywriter
Emily Bain, Director of Strategic Planning
Sarah Henderson, Sr. Strategic Planner
Heather Crawley, Team Leader

Crossover Notes:
All winning cases contain lessons that cross over from one case to another. David Rutherford has been identifying these as Crossover Notes since CASSIES 1997. The full set for CASSIES 2013 can be downloaded from the Case Library section at

Crossover Note 1. What a Brand Stands For.
Crossover Note 6. Should the product be improved?
Crossover Note 7. Fighting for the Same High Ground.
Crossover Note 10. Conventional Wisdom—should it be challenged?
Crossover Note 11. The Eureka Insight.
Crossover Note 27. Share of Mind, Share of Voice, Spending.

To see creative, click on the links that are embedded in the case.

Total 2794 Words


Business Results Period (Consecutive Months):December 24, 2006 - June 4, 2011
Start of Advertising/Communication Effort: May 2007
Base Period as a Benchmark: 52 weeks ending December 23, 2006

a) Overall Assessment

In 2006, Facial Tissue was something of a case study for low involvement categories. Firstly, it was a fragmented market where no branded player had a commanding lead: Puffs was at 5.6% tonnage, Kleenex 12%, Royale 18%, Scotties 21.7% and Private Label 41%.  (footnote 1)

Secondly, it suffered from the “Kleenex effect” - which manifested in three ways:

1)   People say “pass the Kleenex”, never “pass a facial tissue”. So while Kleenex was not remotely market leader in volume, 46% of people still claimed they used Kleenex most often – almost 4 times the brand’s actual market share.  (footnote 2)

2)   Kleenex had 4 times the national Top of Mind awareness that Scotties did (62% VS 14%). (footnote 2) They also owned visibility at shelf with twice the number of items as Scotties and constant news from their global product pipeline. 

3)   Kleenex beat us on every brand image and quality measure including popular, contemporary, up to date, and dependable. (footnote 2) In truth, their manufacturing process did yield tissue that was softer, thicker, and stronger than Scotties.[Crossover Note 6]

The other troubling dynamic was that facial tissue volume peaked in 2003 and had since gone flat. By 2006, advertisers hit the panic button and the media spend was double what it had been a year prior. (footnote 3)

Essentially, there was less business to go around and everyone was spending more to get it.

This left Scotties with underdog status as a brand that was underspent and not winning on any attributes in a crowded category where people couldn’t be bothered to pay attention to what product they picked up off the shelf.

Nonetheless, Scotties was under a mandate from the newly established Kruger Products (formerly Scott Paper) to become the clear branded leader in the category.

b) Resulting Business Objectives

The primary business objective was to grow unit volume. In 2006, Scotties hovered in the low 20% share range which was too close for comfort to the next highest branded tissue, Royale, at 18%. We wanted to claim, and importantly maintain, a clear lead versus the other branded tissues.

To achieve meaningful growth in this low involvement and deceivingly complicated category, it meant that we needed to develop a differentiated brand idea to lay the groundwork for long-term success. The communication objectives then were to:

a)   make the Scotties name stand out: improve brand link

b)   make Scotties stand for something: what that would be, exactly, is what we needed to figure out.

c) Annual Media Budget
$1 - $2 million

d) Geographic Area

Footnote 1: AC Nielsen Market Track, National, 52 weeks ending Dec 23, 2006
Footnote 2: Burak Jacobson, Facial Tissue Tracking Research, Fall 2006
Footnote 3: Nielsen Media Canada, Facial Tissue Category Spending 2003 - 2006

a) Analysis and Insight

Low involvement categories are riddled with conventions and facial tissue is no exception. The standard communication talked to Mom about soothing softness for cold and flu or allergy season.  Puffs had their cartoon kids, Royale had their kittens, and even Scotties had its puffy little ‘Softie’ character. The most exciting it got was ‘now with more lotion’.

Up until 2006, Scotties (like all competitors) was also playing the softness game. [Crossover Note 10] Our print and OOH campaign was based on the premise that Canadians need softness all year round. Which is true, they do, but they simply weren’t turning to Scotties often enough for it. So while softness is the number one claimed choice driver for facial tissues, we realized we couldn’t win in such a crowded space. [Crossover Note 7] 

And then we thought, “what if the reason they claim they buy one brand over another isn’t the real reason they do?”

So we radically shifted the frame of reference and looked outside the box. Literally. Even though facial tissue is made for your skin, it actually lives on display in your home, and like it or not it's just as much a part of the design of a room as any other accessory. If that’s the case, then surely the appearance of the box must be important. We were encouraged by a statistic from our consumer research that said 60% of people consider box design when making a purchase. (footnote 4)

In other words, while softness may be the thing that people say is most important, the way the box looks determines what they do. The design of the box is what really determines purchase. It’s what’s outside that counts. [Crossover Note 11]

The Inspired Design brand idea was born.  It’s an idea that makes use of the unique insight around matching designs to fit a room. And it would encourage increased consumption by encouraging more designs for more rooms.

With the help of a proprietary values-based segmentation, we were able to identify who would be most inspired by the Scotties design platform. They are a target segment we call the Practical Planner – a group of women who “think decorating is important,” “like their home to look nice,” and believe “home is where the heart is.”

She also looks for value-add in everything she buys and uses a lot of facial tissue. For the Practical Planner, Scotties could land in the sweet spot as a reasonably priced product (higher than private label but generally less than Kleenex) that brings more to the table by acting like a décor accessory.

b) Communication Strategy

Scotties = the ‘perfect finishing touch’ would be our filter for all our creative and media. [Crossover Note 1]

We wanted to showcase as much of the design range as possible because if we could communicate that Scotties has a finishing touch for every room, it would both reinforce our new positioning and encourage buying more boxes for more rooms.

The designs we selected were ones that would help build our contemporary credentials through whatever design themes were in vogue, or by showing how our designs drew inspiration from pop culture.

The new strategy liberated us to talk differently than the rest of the category - as a woman beautifying her home vs. a mom orchestrating a household. Through this lens, we maintained one element of Scotties’ past life that made even more sense now that we had a new, more feminine orientation.  That was an affiliation with the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (CBCF). The annual Tribute Box in support of the cause gained increased relevance for our charitable-oriented target because the design was a proof point of our commitment to the full potential of the Inspired Design positioning. 

Footnote 4: 2006 Facial Tissue Package Design Research

a) Media Used

Media used to support this campaign include magazine, online promotion, TV billboards, and media integration. 

b) Creative Discussion

[Please click on Scotties Cassies Creative in "Attached Files."

2007 - The Launch

Design By Scotties was launched with print creative using the classic design icon of the paint swatch, swapping the colours with a themed ‘collection’ of box designs. Consumers could use the swatch to find the box that’s just right for their room.  The concept was also adapted for digital ads to enable people to click through and explore the whole collection.

As a bridge from our past life, a supplementary print ad supporting the Scotties Tribute Box ran at secondary weights.

2008 – Calling All Designers

The 2007 brand equity tracking results were beyond expectations – with no change in Share of Voice, Scotties Share of Mind jumped 6 points.

This led to the idea of the Scotties Design Challenge – where we asked people to submit a box design idea for a chance to win a room makeover and to see the winning idea become an actual Scotties box. It was supported by print ads and online ads showing that great design inspiration can come from anywhere, encouraging consumers to let their inner designer loose. There were almost 24,000 submissions.

In the Fall of 2008 we featured the most beautiful boxes in a print campaign that also told the stories behind the designs of each box.

2009 - Flower Power  

The 2009 print campaign introduced a new floral execution in the same campaign, but the big news was a partnership with Umbra to create a Designer Series of three abstract floral boxes.

This was not about a new product launch (in fact, it was available in very limited distribution). This was about a collaboration with Umbra, a Canadian leader in design, that would elevate Scotties credentials and capture design-savvy consumers. It cast a stylish and modern halo and made Scotties appear very different compared to the mom-oriented work in market from the competition.

2010 and 2011 – The Sustaining Years

To keep driving our popular and contemporary measures, we found a new way to dramatize the idea that a Scotties box adds a spark of life to any room. Three of the most popular box designs were nature-inspired so we captured vignettes that played up that particular design detail. A nod to our partnership with the CBCF was also included in all the work as a sign that we had substance and not just style.

This creative had some of the highest recall scores to date which enabled us to get away with spending less on traditional print and add some new things to the mix without hurting sales momentum.

The objective for the other creative elements was to separate ourselves from the competition by feeling less like an ad and more like a design consultant. Through unique media integrations we were able to achieve that. For example, throughout 2010 and 2011, Scotties had a regular print series in House & Home and Style at Home magazines using popular design constructs like The Finishing Touch and High/Low Style.

In the same spirit, Scotties partnered with the popular “Steven and Chris” TV show to create a custom segment where Scotties helped viewers with design solutions ranging from good, better, to best. On HGTV, we developed a campaign featuring designer Samantha Pynn who matched her favourite room designs with the complementary Scotties box.

By 2011, we had established a successful creative mix of traditional print and innovative integrations that made the brand story contextually relevant, credible, and interesting in a category that otherwise wasn’t.

c) Media Discussion

We didn’t have the budgets to compete with Kleenex. They had almost triple our media budgets with the benefit of US spill. (footnote 5) We would have to do things differently to cut through.

The communication objective of brand linkage was, and continues to be, best suited by a media mix that enables us to take advantage of channels where a) other branded players were not present and b) allowed for the design platform to shine. As a result, print-based channels and integrations were a core part of the media strategy.  

The Inspired Design brand idea enabled contextual relevance that would make our limited budget work even harder. We didn’t have the money to play on TV but we could still get TV presence through focused media partnerships with designers on HGTV and CBC.  The Steven and Chris Good, Better, Best segment and the HGTV Design Tuesdays (ownership of TV billboards during prime time viewing) are two examples.

The same philosophy was extended to print through advertorials in House & Home and Style at Home magazines. We could get the most bang for our buck because these publications over-indexed with our target. And we could make our design position even more relevant by showing how influencers in the décor world added their own (easy and affordable) finishing touch with Scotties. No other player was pursuing this strategy so Scotties benefited from the design and innovation halo it created.

Footnote 5: Nielsen Media Canada, Facial Tissue Category Spending 2006 – 2011; Cramer-Krasselt Media US, Puffs and Kleenex Facial Tissue Category spending 2006 - 2011

a) Sales/Share Results

In the four and a half years that the campaign ran, Scotties went from 21.7% share of tonnage volume to 29.4% . That’s an increase of 35% in a declining category (See Volume Growth Chart, Footnote 6, in Attached Files). This exceeded Kruger Products’ benchmark of 25% volume share for what is considered branded leader status in this category (it’s actually more than double the targeted share gain).

We met our goal of establishing a clear lead as the branded tissue by moving from a 4 point lead to 13.5 point lead over Royale. This, despite Royale entering the market with communications in 2009 and 2010. At the same time, Kleenex lost 1 share point and private label dropped 10.5 share points. (footnote 7) The fact that Scotties grew share when both the high and low ends of the market declined proves that our positioning of practicality and style hit a consumer sweet spot.  

This increase in volume and market share has also generated a substantial increase in dollar volume. Retail sales grew 34% over the campaign period, delivering an incremental $21 million in dollar sales. (footnote 7) While Kruger does not release profit figures, we have been assured by the client that this investment has generated excellent ROI. The incremental $21 million was generated with only $7.5 million media and production spend. For context, that’s over 29 million more boxes per year!

The campaign also drove a 3.5 point increase in household penetration despite a 4.6 point decrease for the category as a whole (see Household Penetration Chart, footnote 8, in Attached Files.). Loyalty for those claiming Scotties as their main brand increased 23%. Our finishing touch message gave people a different way to think about Scotties that helped insulate us from the overall category trend.

b) Consumption/ Usage Results

c) Other Pertinent Results

d) Return on Investment

Footnote 6: Scotties Volume Growth Chart, AC Nielsen Market Track, National, 52 weeks ending Dec 23, 2006 to week ending, June 4, 2011
Footnote 7: AC Nielsen Market Track, National, 52 weeks ending Dec 23, 2006 to week ending, June 4, 2011
Footnote 8: Scotties Household Penetration Chart, ACNielsen Homescan, 52 weeks ending Dec 9, 2006 to Dec 17, 2011

a) General Discussion

Our hypothesis was that by building a unique and relevant positioning around stylish design we would improve brand linkage and together those measures would drive sales.

Clearly, we achieved the sales momentum. With respect to design credentials, Scotties also claimed 59% consumer association with most appealing box designs by campaign end. That’s notable given the fact that the ‘Kleenex effect’ has traditionally commanded a wide gap on brand attribute ratings. Footnote 9 in Attached Files demonstrates that the campaign was successful in closing the design gap as well significantly narrowing the gap on other brand image ratings. 

Another indicator of success was the steady and significant increase in advertising recall and brand linkage. Scotties leapt from 32% advertising brand linkage pre-campaign to 41% by campaign end. The campaign also positively impacted Share of Mind Awareness where we increased 4 points by campaign end and Kleenex declined 9 points (despite holding a consistent SOV lead). (footnote 9) [Crossover Note 27]

Lastly, the campaign was also successful in elevating the meaning of the brand’s CBCF association through the annual Tribute Box creative.  Between the end of 2007 (when this measure was added to the tracking study) and 2011, Scotties association with the CBCF grew almost 60%. (footnote 10)

b) Excluding Other Factors
Spending Levels:

Since the start of the campaign in 2007, category spend has remained relatively static at the $8.5MM to $9.5MM mark. During that time it went from three players (Puffs, Kleenex, and Scotties) to four with the Royale introducing communications. The Scotties Inspired Design campaign has been consistently outspent by Kleenex and Puffs equity creative (Facial Tissue Category SOV Chart, footnote 11, in Attached FIles.) so that in our lowest year we had 13% SOV and even in our best year, only had 33% SOV. Scotties success was not driven by media spend, in fact Scotties succeeded in spite of the media spend.


While price promotion has always played a big role in the paper category, all players participate to an equal degree which makes it a relatively even playing field. Looking at both average retail price and average temporary price reduction (TPR) price since 2006, the gap between Scotties and the other branded players has remained virtually unchanged. (footnote 7)

Further, the improvements in dollar volume for Scotties demonstrates that this was not a case of simply cutting prices or buying share (see Scotties Tonnage Volume and Dollar Volume Growth Chart, Footnote 12, in Attached Files).

Distribution Changes:

Scotties is almost a 60 year-old brand and had broad, national distribution prior to the campaign start in 2006. There were no dramatic changes in distribution for Scotties that would have driven the brand’s results.  If anything, Scotties experiences a disadvantage at shelf with Kleenex carrying almost twice the number of items.

Unusual Promotional Activity:

Outside of communications, there was no unusual promotional activity that would have been responsible for the success of the brand.

Other Potential Causes:

There are no other economic, consumer, or product factors during this period that could have positively impacted sales. Scotties did not execute any competitive product improvements during the case period, nor did they introduce any product innovation that was unique relative to the rest of the category.

Scotties had a legacy sponsorship of the Tournament of Hearts, Canada’s women’s curling championship, along with the other products in the Kruger portfolio. It was a corporate commitment inherited through the company’s transition from Scott Paper to Kruger Products. As it relates to our communication strategy and case, the sponsorship lived as its own entity with no change in strategy or investment pre or post the Inspired Design launch. It is a non-factor with regard to results. What it did mean, however, is that the small budget left over for Scotties brand advertising needed to work extra hard.

Footnote 9: Brand Attribute Ratings Chart, Burak Jacobson, Facial Tissue Tracking Research, Fall 2006 – Spring 2011

Footnote 10: Burak Jacobson, Facial Tissue Tracking Research, Fall 2006 – Spring 2011

Footnote 11: Facial Tissue Category SOV Chart. Nielsen Media Canada, Facial Tissue Category Spending 2006 – 2011; Cramer-Krasselt Media US, Puffs and Kleenex Facial Tissue Category spending 2006 – 2011.

Footnote 12: Scotties Tonnage Volume and Dollar Volume Growth Chart, AC Nielsen Market Track, National, 52 weeks ending Dec 23, 2006 to week ending, June 4, 2011