Kleenex is a global facial tissue brand owned by Kimberly-Clark. The creation of Kleenex all began with the invention of Cellu-cotton. Cellu-cotton, (cellulose + cotton) is an absorbent cellulose wadding that was used as bandages and sanitary napkins during World War I.
In 1920, Kimberly-Clark formed the company Cellu-cotton Products to manufacture sanitary napkins, which was named Kotex. This project was met with complications: Kimberly-Clark felt afraid and unsure about being associated with a “tabooed” product from the beginning, leading to internal ambivalence towards the product. In addition, the Kotex business failed to garner a fast momentum in its early stages of business, leaving excess supplies in the factory. Such complications began the internally titled, ‘Kleenex project’ (the name is a combination of “cleansing” and “Kotex”).
In the early 1920’s, women frequently applied cold cream on their face while riding open convertibles. From this insight, Kimberly-Clark saw an opportunity in cold cream removers. Hence, the heavy creped Kotex materials were ironed and flattened to form soft, thin Kleenex, officially launched in 1924, Kleenex was marketed as “absorbent pads or sheets for removing cold cream” in order to cater to women’s needs. While they tried to leverage previous excess supplies, Kleenex ultimately failed to make an impression.
A few years went by since Kleenex’s initial launch and Kimberly-Clark was still figuring out how to make Kleenex a booming business. One day in the year of 1927, Kimberly-Clark’s head researcher became sick with a hay fever.
He began to notice that he was using the Kleenex in his office to cover his cough. Right at that moment, an ah-ha moment struck him - that Kleenex could be used as a disposable handkerchief. This led to the innovative idea of marketing Kleenex as disposable handkerchiefs, which ultimately changed everything.
Thanks to its marketing efforts, Kleenex became a booming business in the 1930’s and onwards.. The brand frequently advertised the product with the slogan, “Don’t put your cold in your pocket”. The message was wildly popular and more importantly, has helped Kleenex position itself as a caring, providing brand.
The first pop-up tissue box, that is relevant and in use today, officially launched in 1930.
Kleenex, a Global Brand Today
Since its launch, Kleenex has become a household name, holding its #1 position in the facial tissue category. The products have been so widely used throughout the past century that the brand has been genericized: it is even included in Oxford and Merriam-Webster dictionary.
The usability of Kleenex has been fused with relevant, engaging packaging, marketing and various product innovations. In addition to all these efforts, there is one thing the brand stayed consistent with: its branding. Throughout all these years, Kleenex has never failed to show care to its audiences. Over time, the brand has consistently emulated a caring personality that eventually solidified, for its users, into the Kleenex brand identity.