Letter to Cottonelle Marketing Department

Dear Cottonelle Marketing Department:

Positioning toilet paper as something other than an everyday commodity must be a challenge. Do you promote softness, or maybe strength, or somehow combine the two, all the while dancing around the taboo subject of body fluids? For years fussy Mr. Whipple delivered the message of softness as he secretly caressed packages of Charmin. (Suspicious by nature, I always suspected that the “softness” was related to the fact that the roll was wound very loosely rather than any inherent property of the paper itself.) But now barriers have been broken, taboos demolished; the TP industry has decide to exploit the anal-retentive anxiety of cleanliness.

Your competitor Charmin features ads in which a group of blue bears notes that their product gets you so clean that you can wear your underwear two days in a row. One of the bears is named “Skids.” But Cottonelle, you’ve gone too far. You claim that your TP will convince consumers to “go commando.” No cute bears or animals shield us from an explicit message – your spokespeople are everyday humans who are encouraged to go into a little tent and use Cottonelle. They emerge with their underwear in a tote bag, and then cheekily pull down their waistband to validate their pantilessness. The implication is that thanks to the cleanliness provided by Cottonelle, users are reborn as sexually adventuresome rule-breakers, ready for a lusty romp.

Yes, of course, sex sells, but the problem is that your ad makes no sense. First of all, don’t you realize that cleanliness is operator-dependent, not TP-dependent? Secondly, from a woman’s point of view, the quality of toilet paper has no bearing on whether or not to “go commando.” You apparently need an anatomy lesson about a woman’s nether regions. May I remind you that there are three egress points down there. The two flanking holes are equipped with water-tight sphincters and, under optimal conditions, they open and close in a predictable manner. This is a recognized and welcomed role of Cottonelle, a necessary sphincter mop-up action permitting us manually dextrous humans to function as cozy social animals.

But maintenance of that middle hole requires more than the periodic use of TP. Let’s face it, under usual circumstances this hole is a gaping cavity. Without a sphincter, well, stuff just falls out. Unpredictably. Without warning. Yes, the same gravity that dropped the fabled apple on Newton’s head is the same universal life force that pulls the moisture and debris from deep within into the dank light of day. Except for dire situations (like forgetting to do the laundry), feminine flotsam and jetsam demand the safety net of underwear.

Do colleagues in your sister Kotex division realize that Cottonelle is cannibalizing their U-Kotex panty liner product? Your parent company sells panty liners for every type of underwear, even little bitty things specially designed for thongs. These products are marketed with a competing message of cleanliness and naughty sex. Kotex is waging a “Save the Undies” campaign and the Carefree brand exclaims, “When you feel fresh you’re free to be the best version of yourself. Free to be, fun, flirty and most of all FIERCE!” Sadly I am no longer flush with estrogen and thus have aged out of your target fierce demographic. I can see the day when after years of hardy service, the sphincters may lose a bit of their spunk. Therefore, I was pleased to note that you have repackaged the same U-Kotex panty liners into a more sedate version just for us seniors – Poise, in various different thicknesses and horsepowers.

I assume that TP is generally marketed to women, since they make the purchasing decisions and use at least twice as much. Therefore, I was quite intrigued that one of your Go Commando! volunteers is a middle-aged man who also bares his haunches after visiting the Cottonelle tent. It is unclear whether his eagerness relates to solving the issue of the dance and the last drop in the pants, or his more rearward “skiddish” anatomy. If you want to emphasize that Cottonelle addresses all sphincter needs, then it would be a brilliant marketing strategy to convince men that bi-sphincter cleanliness is not gender specific. I envision a campaign of women demanding TP equality. If we wipe both fore and aft after every visit, then so should men, neatly doubling the demand for toilet paper. Just imagine a roll of Cottonelle at every urinal!

I would be happy to discuss these ideas further with you.

Yours Truly,
Liza Blue


  1. Nancy on November 2, 2015 at 2:26 pm

    What a hoot, Liza, as only you can spot an erroneous claim warranting a “set ’em straight” discussion aimed at those wayward ad folks.

  2. Terri J on January 31, 2016 at 8:11 pm

    OMG Liza, it’s all i could do to get through this, took several minutes due to wiping laughter tears out of my eyes so as i could SEE! just too funny

  3. Janet J on February 4, 2016 at 9:01 pm

    Finally, you have a way of asking the questions we’d all like to ask that we just don’t find the proper words. You’ve given their marketing department a new angle to ponder. Great!

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