News & Views

Kleenex / Achoo

by Contagious Team

Tissue brand launches predictive tool for flu and cold season

Wondering where winter flu will strike next? There's a website for that, thanks to tissue brand Kleenex in the US. 

At website, people can enter their postcode to get a prediction of how likely their neighbourhood is to get the flu in the next three weeks. The prediction tool is proprietary and compiled using data from the Centers for Disease Control

In a smart media and promotion play, the brand will also be using data from the algorithm to plot a route for a promotion and publicity tour in cities across the US. The tour, called Kleenex Checkpoints, will start in Chicago, the worst hit city for winter sniffles last year.

Supported by TV commercials from JWT, New York, showing the unhygienic germ spreading of people with colds, the brand is also using the data to target digital out of home media buys in cities likely to be hit by the flu.

Contagious Insight  
More ink has been spilled over Big Data than perhaps any other subject recently, but few brands use it in creative, useful ways. 

At its best, data can drive digital services that are a new competitive advantage for FMCG brands. Kleenex here is doing exactly that by being, it claims, the only brand to predict where colds will strike in future, giving it an advantage over competitors. It's part of a bigger trend Contagious has written about, Pre-Emptive Planners, where brands move from being passive to active in helping every part of our lives. 

In behavioural economics terms, people are poor at judging risks when they're in the future and ill-defined, which is hard for a brand banking on future illness. By being specific about a time frame and location for this future threat though, Kleenex makes it more concrete, pushing people towards purchase.

Beyond the immediate usefulness of the service and brand affinity which comes from that, implicit within is the added competitive advantage of being able to predict the future now: you can put the brand front of mind weeks before people are ill and buying tissues, and drive brand preference towards Kleenex.

Beyond the service however, the geo-targeted billboards and tour show how powerful a tool data can be at pinpointing the right people, at the right time and in the right place - a great example of data-driven media buying. One quibble though - why not better target the TV buy to reflect those trends too?

This is a natural extension from the Kleenex pollen map on Facebook for hayfever sufferers, launched in 2011, and the brand's flu predictor, launched in May this year, which used NHS and Google Flu Trends data to target media buys to cities likely to be hit by the diseases. For more information on Kleenex and how it's successfully used social media, please refer to the Contagious case study.

This story originally appeared on Contagious Feed. Contagious Feed is our bespoke trends, inspiration, insight and analysis service, providing daily innovative marketing intelligence across a comprehensive range of sectors to brands and agencies across the world. For more information about Contagious Feed contact