This winter, Kleenex set up a social marketing program that let consumers send each other free samples of tissues. And its success was pretty amazing: The company just mailed off its millionth sample, which, as the brand director Craig Smith put it, “essentially enabled 1 million consumers to become ambassadors for the brand.” The company also let people send each other virtual Facebook tissues, but the real (read: useful) ones proved far more popular.
Who knew gifting Kleenex would be such a hit? (Particularly in Canada — Ontario is currently beating out any U.S. state for the number of tissues sent and received).
The answer is a mixture of “viral, social, and generous” — the marketing scheme was the perfect combo of all three. Beyond bringing the brand name into people’s homes through their own friends’ hands, the “free tissues” campaign also tapped into people’s desire to be generous and help others (albeit quickly and at little or no cost to themselves). Essentially, it offered anyone and everyone a chance to do something nice for a friend, while simultaneously pushing a brand.
Kleenex’s spectacular success has added a chapter to the “successful use of viral social media playbook” (which was practically written by Old Spice). We’re waiting to see which brand is next to offer social sampling. Come this spring, oh Claritin and J. Crew’s bathing suit department, we’re looking at you…