Kleenex Flu Predictor

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Kleenex Balsam every year, from October to February, runs a cold and flu campaign  for its soothing range of tissues and balms. However, in 2011 theUKexperienced the hottest October in 100 years, resulting in low cases of cold and flu and an unsuccessful start to the Kleenex campaign.

It was clear that the timing of cold and flu outbreaks has a significant bearing on campaign profitability. 

So, for the 2012 activity, Kleenex needed to ensure that their communications were live during cold and flu outbreaks, the optimum time to get consumers to switch from a normal tissue to Kleenex Balsam.

But how can you actually know when and where people are going to fall ill?

Mindshare had to find a way to solve this complex problem and make Kleenex Balsam’s communications more relevant and reactive to the unpredictable cold and flu seasons.


5 years ago, when ill, we headed to the local doctor. Today we live in a culture of self-diagnosis. Today we head to Google.

As a result, Google has an accurate view of the national and regional flu conditions in the UK.

This became the pivotal insight that enabled Kleenex to achieve its objective of becoming more relevant; revolutionising its approach to marketing and creating a blue print for adaptive planning.

Mindshare created a real-time adaptive planning tool, allowing Kleenex to switch its marketing communications on and off, in-line with daily Google flu search data. 

This ensured that they were showing ads for tissues in areas of the country suffering from cold and flu outbreaks.


Mindshare analysed Google search trends for relevant keywords over the course of the previous 18 months. This was then compared with flu NHS Direct calls and GP visits data, proving a robust statistical relationship between flu searches and flu GP visits. 

Mindshare then built a model using this data that allowed them to predict relevant flu outbreaks at city level, in real-time.

The agency used the data to adapt the media weight and targeting accordingly, to ensure that media was delivered to regions with flu and that every £ spent worked as hard as possible.

Budget was concentrated into tactical channels with the focus on Radio, Mobile and Digital Display. TV, Social and Experiential activity were also deployed according to the Kleenex tool and optimised on a weekly basis across the multi-agency team. Bespoke buying deals were struck with media owners in order to ensure maximum flexibility with buying and implementation.


96% of media spend went to regions of the country suffering a live flu outbreak.

Total sales increased 40% year on year in the first two months of the campaign - that’s a staggering 432.499 extra boxes sold.

Kleenex can now predict the areas likely to have high levels of flu, completely changing their approach, from an inflexible plan to truly adaptive activity. 

This campaign has revolutionized the way media is planned and optimised for Kimberly-Clark.

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Kleenex Balsam
Brand Owner:
United Kingdom
November - December 2012
Media Channel:
  • FMAs winner
  • FMAs shortlisted

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