SpongeTowels is there to clean up life’s messiest—and memorable—moments

Who: Kruger Products, with Broken Heart Love Affair for strategy and creative, Wavemaker for media and Feels Like Home for production (directed by Jakob Marky).

What: “Absorb life. All of it,” a new brand positioning and tagline for SpongeTowels that picks up where last year’s “Unapologetically Human” masterbrand spot for Kruger left off—by injecting more humanity and purpose into the paper towel brand.

When & Where: The campaign is video only for now, running as 30s and 15-second cutdowns across TV and online in French and English. “But there’s more coming,” said Kruger CMO Susan Irving.

Why: When Irving took over as CMO early last March, the company was talking about doing more purpose-led marketing. Brands that have purpose at the core of their campaigns are more trusted and enjoy stronger sales, said Irving. But most CPG advertising focuses on products’ functional benefits.

Kruger decided it was going to refocus on the consumer and the ways its products can contribute to their lives. “We wanted to humanize our brands a little more… and that wasn’t necessarily going to happen last year,” said Irving. “But then Covid hit and it accelerated our journey with purpose.”

Why did Covid change things? “Because consumers didn’t want to hear about functional benefits,” she said. “Consumers didn’t care about innovation at the beginning of Covid… they didn’t want to hear about a new product or new flavours, they wanted to know how these products play in their life.” That new context led to the creation of “Unapologetically Human,” an anthemic umbrella spot meant to cover Kruger’s various brands, including SpongeTowels. The success of that ad meant they were all-in on purpose.

“Once that was out there, it was very hard to go back to full-on functional advertising,” said Irving. “When you have something that resonates so much, like ‘Unapologetically Human,’ you need to look at all your brand stances and make sure that everything’s going to ladder up to that master campaign.”

How: The new SpongeTowels brand platform is launching with a video ad showing spills and messy accidents in various slice of life moments: fixing a car, cooking a meal and preparing a baby bottle.

“Spills are the moments where we kind of realize our own fallibility,” said BHLA’s chief strategy officer, Jay Chaney. But those messy moments are just a part of life—often a side-effect of the most memorable moments. SpongeTowels is there to take care of the mess, so you can focus on that whatever else is going on around you. “If you’re distracted by a mess, then you’re not paying attention to the greatness that’s surrounding it,” he said.

Purpose meets function: “Purpose for the sake of purpose is fine, but when you can find a purposeful role and meaning for the product in life that’s true, then you have magic,” said Chaney. That’s why they settled on the line “Absorb Life. All of it.” The double meaning of “absorb” speaks to both the importance of taking in the meaningful moments in life, while also cleaning up any messes that happen along the way.

“We want you to focus on those [messy] moments because at the end of the day, the functional benefits of absorbency and strength and thickness [mean] you can count on SpongeTowels to actually pick up after every life happening that’s messy.”

In the future… “Are we going to go back to functional benefits? Absolutely, but I think there needs to be a better balance,” said Irving. Even in her own career, she recalls pushing her marketing teams to focus on function and “buy me, buy me, buy me” messaging, “versus saying, ‘Here’s your life and here’s how my product fits in your life.'”

David Brown