Rumors are that Romance novels are hot sellers. In recessionary times folks just want to escape. So what if your fictional romance was with the Brawny paper towel man. Yeah, for most folks that would be a joke. But a few years ago, some sort of market analysis convinced the makers of Brawny that women would opt for their brand of paper towel if they updated the image of the man on the package.
So update they did. Darker skin and hair for wider ethnic appeal – a slap in the face of those who prefer blond gentlemen. A physique that communicates strength – or at least an obsession with the gym. A softer side – soap opera watching, house cleaning, breakfast in bed serving type. Brawny rejected a photo of a real guy because he was “too real.” Oh, and by the way, the company also invested heftily in technology to soften paper towel fibers – product upgrading being one small part of business.
However, not all were enchanted with the Brawny man. Notable artist Brice Marden who is perceived to have a sort of paper towel obsession was quoted as saying, “I know Brawny. I don’t like the guy on the package.” Brice prefers Bounty, the paper towel that picks up more quickly. Brice packs Bounty paper towels for his vacations – European brands just don’t compare. He reuses paper towels and claims that his wife gets annoyed if he has more than one clump in the sink waiting to be reused. Some concepts can leave folks at a loss for words.
While Brawny may be brawny and Bounty may be well, bountiful in its ability to pick up quickly, the twain just got farther apart. Bounty’s makers, Proctor & Gamble are suing Brawny maker, Georgia Pacific over the bow-tie quilted pattern on the newest incarnation of paper towels. And that’s just the tip of the lawsuit iceberg. All of which shows that it’s not enough to design a good product and an ad campaign, you’ve got to be ready for a slugfest with the competition as well.