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This Week in Internet: America, America, This Is You

Toilet Paper is the Most Complicated Thing Since Corn Cobs

Now that it's 2010 and every self-respecting business/brand/product has an accompanying website, I enjoy looking up the most mundane companies and products I can find too see how they use their web space.  The truth is that for certain categories of product (toothpaste, bleach, etc.) there just isn't that much to say--but companies feel compelled to say something, because not being on the Internet is a Capital M, Capital O Missed Opportunity.  Today, I am giving you a guided tour of one of my favorite examples of this phenomenon: toilet paper!!

Now, toilet paper advertising was hilarious long before the web got involved.  To be fair, it's a hard product to market; while the target demographic is clear (butt-havers); the actual application of the product is . . . unglamorous.  As a result, toilet paper brands go waaaay abstract, giving us cuddly imagery and trusting that we will make the required logical leap ("It must be good, because that baby with wings lives in a cloud made out of it!") in exchange for not having to see the more mundane realities of toilet paper spelled out for us during a 30-second break from America's Got Talent.  But since this type of marketing is already such a stretch, taking it to the web makes it even more absurd.  Don't believe me?  Then clearly, you've never Googled Charmin.

Charmin - Google Search

(click to enlarge! this goes for all pics in this post.  wouldn't want you to miss out on the toilet-papery greatness.)

You can already tell this site is going to be good, based solely upon the site description's plea to "Explore the Charmin forest to find the toilet paper products that are right for your family."  Don't mind if I do!
  
  Charmin site

The Charmin forest has everything a typical forest should have: trees, bears, and conspicuously-placed packages of toilet paper.  (Take that, Leave No Trace!)  We recognize the Charmin bear from those TV commercials, in which we learned that bears--who are often misrepresented by science as shitting indiscriminately throughout the woods without cleaning up after themselves--actually prefer to hang toilet paper rolls on cartoony tree branches and pass down toilet paper preferences and advice to their bear sons.  ("Other advice" includes saying, "Oh, you didn't know how to kill all those people camping in their trailer?  TRY USING MORE TEETH.")

In the interest of desperately trying to fill up space, Charmin links us to some incredible uses of our free time.  First, there is SitOrSquat.com, "a place to find and record bathrooms all around the world."  What could be more noble?  I encourage you to check out their community page, which is described as " a place to interact with anything that has to do with bathrooms."

If that, SOMEHOW, is not enough, you can also visit Charmin's Enjoy the Go site, which seems to be designed for the purpose of encouraging women to enjoy going to the bathroom more.  Please watch the video on the page--you will understand.  (By understand, I mean NOT UNDERSTAND.)

Alas.  We can't spend all day in the Charmin forest.  Let's move on.  Next up: Angel Soft. 

Angel Soft also goes the abstract route by linking their product to angels.  (This toilet paper is as soft as dead people!)  Here's their homepage:

  Angel Soft Bath Tissue

We get to see a nice picture of a mom and her son at bath time; presumably they are more able to enjoy their nightly bath time ritual now that they have been relieved of the complex and emotional task of wondering what toilet paper is preferred by naked babies on clouds. 

We also get a Fun Bathroom Fact: "85% of moms say the most common bathroom blunder is falling into the toilet when the seat is left up."  This information is undoubtedly 100% factual, because it is brought to us by the company that has also done the complicated math required to assure us that 12 double rolls are equal to nine mega rolls, which is the equivalent of 24 regular rolls.  We can also click on a link to a "Toilet Paper Through the Ages" timeline, which informs us that, among other things, "Colonial Americans used corncobs to cleanse with." 

(Sorry, Founding Fathers, your secret is out--and you are gross.)

Soooo . . . Let's check in on Cottonelle.  Is their motto "better than a corncob?"  Let's find out!
  Cottonelle

Answer: no.  Cottonelle's market research told them that Charmin had taken all the talking bears and Angel Soft had kidnapped all the angel babies, so they wisely went puppy when mascot-pickin time came around. This was a solid move, in my opinion, but their website is a bit confusing.  Apparently, they took a survey about whether Americans preferred to have their toilet paper roll "over" or "under," and it appears that the 15% of American moms who were not currently trapped in their own toilets due to bathroom blundering had graciously taken the time to vote and decided on "over."  A video explains that Cottonelle's new and improved design is specially engineered to suit over-rollers, and I genuinely cannot tell if they are serious or kinda kidding.  I don't need this confusion in my life!  Let's check in with the simplest brand of all.

Scott

Scott's packaging is simpler than the other brands mentioned above; they don't mess with puppies, bears, angels, or any of that nonsense.  Their wesbite echoes this relative simplicity and is similarly mascot-less. This might be because the website advertises the entire Scott family of paper products as a whole--napkins, paper towels, etc., making those mascots less applicable.  (Although frankly, if a baby angel is making a cloud-nest out of TP like some kind of heavenly child-slash-gerbil hybrid, I would think he would want some nice, stiff paper towels to add some structure to the whole thing.) 

In lieu of mascot, Scott's got a community shtick going, and the homepage shows some of the most recent discussion topics. 

  Scott Community: Community: landing_1277953607638
One example is "Shining the Shower," brought to us by someone named Barbara, whose parents knew she would group up to eventually comment on a toilet paper website.

I have mixed feelings about Scott.  While this approach seems a bit less ridiculous than, say, exploring the Charmin forest on a Wednesday afternoon--it's also kind of boring.  So, what's a toilet paper brand to do?

If you have any good ideas, let me know.

Comments

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EmGusk

Scott has a high-fiving dog on their website. That's got to count for something, even though I hate their toilet paper.

Alexis

Give me some one reason why you hate the toilet paper?
lettering

D

Frankly, I think all toilet paper purchasing decisions should be made based on a x/y chart, with one axis representing "price" and the other representing "softness." Only then can one truly make an informed decision of which toilet paper product is right for his/her family.

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