- Toilet paper brand Cottonelle launched a social media campaign to urge people to avoid hoarding its products during the coronavirus pandemic. Every time someone uses the hashtag #ShareASquare in a social media post until June 1, the brand will donate $1 to the United Way Worldwide COVID-19 Community Response and Recovery Fund, per an announcement.
- While those charitable gifts are capped at $100,000, parent company Kimberly-Clark pledged an additional $1 million and 1 million rolls of Cottonelle — a record donation for the brand — to the nonprofit, which is providing financial and social service support during global crisis.
- Cottonelle is promoting the effort with a 30-second TV commercial that will run through the end of April. The commercial, which was created by ad agency FCB Chicago, shows a tagline reading, "Instead of stockpiling toilet paper, let's stock up on generosity," Adweek reported.
Cottonelle's giving campaign comes as the coronavirus pandemic leads millions of U.S. consumers to stockpile necessities like toilet paper, leading to product shortages, rationing by stores and frustration for shoppers. Toilet paper sales surged 213% during the week ended March 13 from a year earlier, per Nielsen market research data cited by the Associated Press. While such a jump in sales normally would be enviable for any consumer packaged goods (CPG) brand, the COVID-19 crisis has led advertisers like Cottonelle to change the tone of their marketing messages to emphasize altruism and empathy with consumers faced with a generation-defining public health crisis.
By urging consumers to demonstrate their generosity in social media posts tagged with #ShareASquare, Cottonelle can extend the reach of the TV campaign among people who grown reliant on social media to remain connected with friends and family during the pandemic. Social networks such as Facebook have reported a surge in usage in regions most affected by the coronavirus, improving the visibility of campaigns even as many advertisers curb their media spending. Campaign impressions have jumped 22% on photo-sharing app Instagram and 27% on viral video app TikTok in Q1 from the prior quarter, per a study by influencer agency Obviously.
Cottonelle is among the brands that have launched social media campaigns to urge consumers to be more considerate of others during the pandemic, and to participate in giving campaigns. The Giant Company, which runs the Giant and Martin's supermarket chains, last week launched a social media campaign called #MoreForAll that urges shoppers to curb their panic buying. Backpack brand JanSport last week started a hashtag challenge on TikTok and pledged to donate 10,000 backpacks to a nonprofit that helps people struggling with hunger and poverty. These changes come as 43% of people surveyed by the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4As) say they want to see messaging that's reassuring from trusted brands.
However, by capping the social media component to $100,000 in user-generated donations, Cottenelle limits the reach of the campaign and risks alienating consumers who believe that large companies could be doing more to help.