New York Soils Cottonelle Ad Blitz

by Rolf Skar

March 26, 2008

Tissue giant and forest destroyer Kimberly-Clark launched a $100 million advertising blitz for its Cottonelle brand last week – and activists were there to greet them on the first day.

The set-up was as silly as it was expensive: Cottonelle paid for a eerie-looking mutant dog-bus filled with public relations hacks to tour New York City and tell people how to “be kind to your behind.”  Don’t ask me what dogs have to do with toilet paper.  Last time I checked…oh, nevermind.

Activists expose the truth about Cottonelle and forest destructionAnyway, things didn’t go as planned.  Before long, people began asking the Cottonelle reps about their ties to ancient forest destruction.  Cottonelle’s day spiraled down the drain from there.  Click here to see photos of the day.

Activists unfurled a banner in front of the mutant dog-bus and told passersby how Kimberly-Clark products like Cottonelle and Kleenex drive the destruction of ancient forests.  People learned that Cottonelle contains no recycled content, but plenty of wood fiber from the Canadian Boreal forest – the last great ancient forest in North America.  They learned that the Boreal forest is crucial for efforts to fight global warming, critical habitat for caribou, songbirds and bears, and important to Canada’s native First Nations.  They also learned Kimberly-Clark could make Cottonelle from recycled fiber and sustainable wood, but favors spending cash on butt-themed advertising campaigns and greenwashing.

Suddenly, Cottonelle didn’t seem very “kind” to forests, the climate or people.  Folks on the street agreed to keep Cottonelle far from their behinds.  After all, there are plenty of other quality tissue products that are forest friendly (click here for a list).

New York City commuters have expressed disgust over Cottonelle’s toilet-themed ads that literally line the interior of subway cars with headlines like “Too Much Bran?” and “The Average Man Keeps His Underwear Until the Elastic Breaks.”  That’s not what I want to think about during rush hour.

Activist use their bottoms for forest protection
Throwing Cottonelle’s adolescent attempts at bathroom humor back at them, activists donned boxer briefs with slogans such as “Be Kind to Forests” and “Leave Cottonelle Behind.”  Onlookers were amused — even the famous Times Square “Naked Cowboy” got into the spirit, posing for photos holding a pair of shorts stating: "Leave Cottonelle Behind."

When the day was over, forest defenders left behind literature on Cottonelle tour vehicles (printed on 100% post-consumer recycled paper of course) to educate their public relations staff.

It's a bird, it's a's a weird toilet paper dog-bus thing.

Here’s more good news: the Cottonelle toilet paper dog-bus is scheduled to tour cities in the US and Canada for next few months, including Philly, Chicago, Toronto and San Francisco.  Here’s how you can help:

1. Keep your eyes out for Cottonelle ad blitzes and the mutant dog-bus!  Let us know if you spot the bus or think it is coming to your town.

2. If you see the bus, stop by and talk to Cottonelle reps (in a respectful manner, of course) about their role in ancient forest destruction.  Tell them you, your family and your friends won’t buy Cottonelle, Kleenex, or other Kimberly-Clark products until the company protects ancient forests.

3. Take action at our new Kleenex website.  Click here to send a message to Kimberly-Clark, upload photo messages, design your own spoof Kleenex box and more! 

The story of Greenpeace versus the forest destroying dog-bus has just begun.  Stay tuned!


Rolf Skar

By Rolf Skar

Rolf Skar is the Campaigns Director at Greenpeace USA. Since 2007, Rolf has contributed to international Greenpeace campaigns to stop deforestation in the Canadian boreal forest, the Paradise forests of Southeast Asia, and the Brazilian Amazon.

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