Defensive Strategy

Marketing Review: Kleenex

5 Oct 2010  

In my marketing strategy course at Kellogg I periodically ask students to review different marketing initiatives.  The goal is to evaluate each initiative from a strategic point of view.  Will it build the brand and build the business?

After showing an initiative to the class, I ask students to grade it: A, B, C, D or F.

This isn’t a perfect science.  The students don’t know all the dynamics of the business, so I’m certain there are times when they will criticize an initiative that makes perfect sense given a particular competitive situation in a category.  Or applaud an initiative that is off track.  In general, though, I think the ratings are on the mark.

I’ll post my thoughts after the class discussion.  Sometimes I agree with the class rating, and sometimes I have a different opinion.  Feel free to jump with your opinions, too.


Kleenex recently ran a coupon in the Chicago Tribune. 

The ratings….

Students:  B                      Me:  B+

The Kleenex coupon is not going to change the world.  There isn’t any big news, the offer is modest and the creative is fairly predictable.

But the coupon is an example of good, solid marketing.  The branding is quite strong.  There is a clear attribute: soft.  This attribute is supported by a claim.  There is also a higher-order benefit, with a mom caring for her child.  And there is an incentive to buy, which will drive sales.  The incentive is quite modest, 50 cents off of three packs.  But for a well-known brand like Kleenex this makes sense; there is no need to escalate incentives.

The coupon isn’t flashy and it isn’t glamorous.  But it will, in a modest way, build the business and build the brand.

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