Adwatch (11 May) - Top 20 recall: Cushelle takes the soft approach

Cushelle opted for a small furry animal to promote its product
Cushelle opted for a small furry animal to promote its product

The toilet-tissue brand has too much pink and purple and not enough brown and yellow.

Skip to full table

Just over a year ago, Charmin toilet tissue rebranded to Cushelle, and for its brand 'icon' has chosen a koala bear. This latest ad makes no mistakes. To the accompaniment of a doowop love song, the animated koala acts out his affection for Cushelle toilet tissue. He nuzzles up to a toilet roll, wraps himself in it, even kisses it. At the end of this client-delighting demonstration of Cushelle love, a voiceover concludes: 'Koala loves Cushelle's cushiony softness.'

It feels as though it conforms 100% with the norms of the market. It has a brand name in Cushelle that seems as though chosen carefully by committee. It has a small furry animal, just like Andrex and Kittensoft. It has relaxing music that conjures up that comfortable feeling you get when you use Cushelle. It is pink and purple - just like its competitors.

It's packed full of euphemism and metaphor; it goes without saying there's no mention of toilets, or poo or wee or nether regions at all.

So the question I would ask is: is Cushelle creating a brand or a bland? Blands make no mistakes and offend no one. They whistle through research, are polite, unobtrusive and quickly forgettable. They have no teeth so require a wall of media money to cut through.

Little furry advertising properties don't have to be so bland. Look at the meerkat, the PG Tips monkey, Honey Monster.

Does the doowop music have to be quite so bland? Look at what spiky choice of music has done for brands such as John Lewis. And the bland message? No mention of toilets, poo or wee? Come on, we're grown-ups.

The toilet-tissue market reminds me a bit of the sanitary-protection market in the early 90s. In order not to cause offence, 'sanpro' ads became so euphemistic they were ridiculous.

Women bouncing up and down on trampolines and rollerskating with Dalmatians. Just plain daft.

Back then I was working on Lil-Lets. We identified it was time for simple, straight-talking ads that broke the conventions of the market and discussed the simple benefits of tampons in a grown-up way that offended no one.

The ads I wrote sent sales of Lil-Lets through the roof. I used to get fan mail saying: 'Thank you so much. At last tampon advertising written by women for women.'

If I were in the business of marketing toilet tissue now, and I wanted to create a brand that really stood out and with which people empathised, I would look to break the conventions of the market in my advertising - not replicate them.

Sometimes the biggest risk can be taking no risk at all.

Adwatch (11 May) Top 20 recall
Latest May-04 Brand Agency/TV Buyer Recall
rank       %
1 (–) Asda 

Saatchi & Saatchi/


2 (–) DFS  Uber/MediaCom 46
3 (–) Autoglass  Breakfast/Starcom 44
4 -1 Morrisons  DLKW Lowe/MEC 42
5 (–) Cushelle  Fallon London/Carat 38
6 (–) Sensodyne  Grey London/MediaCom 37
7= (–) Ribena  M&C Saatchi/MediaCom 35
7= -8 B&Q 

McCann Erickson/


7= (–)


Coco Pops 

Leo Burnett/Carat 35
10 (6=) Wickes  MWO/MEC 34
11= (15=) Tesco 

The Red Brick Road/


11= (–) Dolmio 

Proximity London/


13= -5 Aldi 

McCann Erickson


McCann Manchester

13= (–) Dyson  In-house/PHD 31
15= (–) Foxy Bingo  Biscuit Agency/Concord 30
15= (–) Homebase  Leo Burnett/MindShare 30
17 (–)



Mother/Initiative 28
18 (–) Flora Cuisine  DDB UK/Mindshare 27
19= (–) Dove 

Ogilvy & Mather/


19= (–) Magnet 

CheethamBell JWT/

MediaVest Manchester



Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus
Brand Republic Jobs

subscribe now


Leaked document shows Nokia to be rebranded as Microsoft Mobile
Nike lays-off hardware staff in move that casts doubt on future of FuelBand
Greenpeace says save the bees or humans will die
What brands need to know about changes to VAT and online downloads in 2015
Jimmy Savile victims urged to claim compensation in new ad campaign
UKIP launches biggest  ad campaign and stirs up 'racist' accusations
Apple boss Tim Cook provides voiceover on ad touting firm's renewed green commitments
John Lewis walks consumers through its history to celebrate 150 years of business
Waitrose boosts content strategy with 'Weekend Kitchen with Waitrose' C4 tie-up
Hottest virals: Cute puppies star in Pedigree ad, plus Idris Elba and Fruyo
Amnesty International burns candles to illuminate new hope
Toyota achieves the impossible by calming angry Roman drivers
Tom of Finland's 'homoerotic' drawings made into stamps
YouTube reveals user habits to appeal to 'older' marketers
Ex-M&S marketing chief Steven Sharp consulting at WPP
Wolff Olins reveals new CEO after Apple poaches Karl Heiselman
Glasgow offers £30,000 prize to best digital idea for 2014 Commonwealth Games
Google's revenues surge but shares drop as it grapples with transition to mobile
Facebook beats Twitter to most 'marketing friendly' social media site crown, says DMA
Fableists believe children like Finn should be outdoors enjoying life
Homebase, Baileys and Camelot join the line-up at Media360
MasterCard renews Rugby World Cup sponsorship to push cashless message
Lynx unleashes £9m 'Peace invasion' campaign
Social Brands 100 Youth: Pizza Hut most social youth brand in UK
Cheryl Cole is wild and arresting in new L'Oreal work
Morrisons told not to show alcohol ads during YouTube nursery rhymes
O2 head of brand Shadi Halliwell departs after 23 years at company in restructure
Tesco hit by further sales decline as it turns to digital Clubcard and social network
Branding guru Wally Olins dies aged 83
Duracell short film captures epic Transatlantic voyage