CASSIES Gold: SpongeTowels absorbs success

John St. turns a product feature into a major long-term benefit for the renamed Kruger Products brand.

GOLD: Packaged Goods Food/Other • GOLD: Sustained Success

Situation Analysis: In the early 2000s ScotTowels was a successful brand, but was living on borrowed time. Kimberly-Clark had bought out Scott Paper in the U.S., and was licensing the ScotTowels name to Kruger in Canada – but only until 2007. As a result, Kruger had renamed ScotTowels as SpongeTowels, and now had the long term challenge of establishing it as a new brand.

Strategy & Insight: When the case began in 2006, P&G’s Bounty was the dominant branded competitor with a 24% share, almost double SpongeTowels at 13%. In branded product tests, Bounty outperformed SpongeTowels on key attributes. Interestingly, though, in blind testing, consumers preferred SpongeTowels. This signaled opportunity.

Execution: Something dramatic was needed, and it came from the quilted “sponge pockets” in the product. These pockets would support a positioning for absorbency. The campaign launched in fall 2006, and has remained largely on television ever since. It brought the Sponge Pockets characters to life – literally – and since then they have been constantly refreshed in multiple “absorbency” situations.

Results: In the four years since launch, SpongeTowels has increased case volume by 45%. This equates to an 18% market share (a five-point increase) and $14 million in incremental sales. Efficacy perceptions are also tremendously improved – and these results have been achieved despite the arrival of Scott paper towels under the Kimberly-Clark banner, a new brand from Cascades, and continued pressure from Bounty.

Cause & Effect: Advertising recall has increased to 81% in spring 2011, up from 62% in fall 2007. Share of voice actually dropped from 35% in 2006 to 21% in 2010. Pricing has been aggressive (given that private label is a major presence) but none of the branded players have been disproportionately active. Similarly, there have been no other factors to account for the growth.


Kruger Products L.P. (formerly Scott Paper)
corporate VP marketing: Nancy Marcus; category director, paper towel: Wendy Mommersteeg; marketing manager, paper towel: Humberto Baruzzi; director, marketing research: Alex Amon

John St.
Co-CDs: Angus Tucker and Stephen Jurisic; art directors: Rob Trickey, Stuart Campbell, Kyle Lamb; copywriters: Neil Shapiro, Mia Thomsett, Kurt Mills; director of strategic planning: Emily Bain; senior strategic planner: Sarah Henderson; team leader: Heather Crawley; account director: Ali Reid; account executive: Madison Papple; executive broadcast producer: Michelle Orlando

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