Back in 2010, tampon brand Kotex confronted the Netherlands and used the word vagina in an ad. Last year, Carefree followed suit and online tampon service Hello Flo went even further with a couple of hilarious spots. The same trend towards openness seems to be developing in the bum wiping sector, long a haven of rolly dogs, tacky euphemisms and smiling actors, and Kleenex Cottonelle has convinced comedian Madeleine Sami, someone who seems to revel in public displays of awkwardness, to get on board and spruik its moistened wipes to New Zealanders.
Parents have been using moistened wipes for years to clean up their babies' bums. But they haven't quite taken off with adults, although as Rory Sutherland says in his inimitable style, using a dry piece of paper to clean your arse rather than something that's wet is fairly irrational. It's very hard to change engrained habits without some very good incentives or some nudging in the right direction and that's where advertising comes in, so Kleenex and Ogilvy & Mather are using a dash of humour in an effort to catch the attention of wealthier defecators, change their bathroom routine and get them to finish the job off with a wipe.
Sales of moistened wipes in the UK have been increasing by 15 percent a year; in the US, it's a US$6 billion industry, with some predicting sales increases of six percent a year over the next five years; and Kimberly-Clark is happy with the early signs for this campaign.
“We’ve had some impressive early results from the Kleenex Cottonelle ‘It Takes Two’ campaign, indicating that Kiwis are eager to take up the fresh test. To date, we have had almost 4,000 unique requests for a sample of the Kleenex Cottonelle Flushable Cleansing Cloths. We have also seen record sales of our cleansing cloths in New Zealand’s two biggest grocery retailers in the two weeks since the campaign went to air.”
On its website, Kimberly-Clark says the fragrance and alcohol free wipes are "safe to flush (maximum two wipes per flush)". But there are major concerns about this trend from an environmental stand point, with their flushability being called into question by wastewater experts.
Recently, Fair Go showed a Kiwi plumber who's seeing more blocked pipes as a result of the wipes; there's a stoush in Canada over expensive blockages; and in the UK, the Daily Mail reported that they cause up to 75 percent of sewer blockages because they don't break down like toilet paper and Thames Water said the huge 'fatberg' discovered in London last year was created because "fat clings to wipes, wipes cling to the fat".
There are also concerns that moistened wipes are causing an increase in allergic reactions.
Kleenex has been running an Australian ad in this market for a while that visualises Sutherland's thoughts by showing a waterless window cleaner.
And Dollar Shave Club, which launched a subscription razor service in spectacular fashion, is also riding the flushable wipes wave, with an ad that uses a similar line to Sami.