Cotton’s New Campaign: Check Those Labels

Mid-April marked the release of Cotton Incorporated’s new advertising campaign with a heartfelt look at why cotton is a consumer favorite and a call to action to check your labels for cotton content.

The new campaign focuses on real stories, from real people talking about their favorite cotton items. The “favorite” commercials feature various cotton staples such as denim and shirting but will also include trending favorites such as athletic apparel.

Kim Kitchings, vice president of corporate strategy and program metrics for Cotton Incorporated, says that many cotton pieces have a great story to tell.

There are different reasons to love cotton; It may be the functional, breathable or comfortable, but it may also be emotional.”

The new commercials will tell those stories with more detail accompanying digital extensions and promotions, including social media. The call to check labels for cotton content is intended to let retailers know American consumers are aware of the fabric content of their clothing and to drive demand to purchase more cotton products.

One of Cotton Incorporated’s most popular Fabric of Our Lives television campaigns in previous years involved singer Hayden Panettiere.
One of Cotton Incorporated’s most popular Fabric of Our Lives television campaigns in previous years involved singer Hayden Panettiere.

Campaign’s Rich History
Cotton Incorporated has had a rich success in promoting the brand awareness of cotton for more than 40 years. In 1973, Dukes Wooters, Cotton Incorporated’s first president, introduced the Seal of Cotton at a time when cotton’s share of the textile market had dropped from 78 percent in 1960 to a low of 34 percent due to the introduction of low-cost manmade fiber into the market. Within three years, cotton promotions would drive consumer recognition of the Seal of Cotton to 45 percent, according to industry metrics.

The Fabric of Our Lives advertising campaign was launched in 1989 with a sentimental appeal reflecting cotton’s subtle and emotional impact on our lives. With vocals by singer Richie Havens and graphic images of special events and heartwarming personal interactions, the ad built strong fiber awareness in the target audience that was making and developing lifelong buying trends. That audience includes women between the ages of 18 to 35, who are establishing their buying trends.

The ads also look to reiterate the appeal of cotton to women, ages 35 to 55, who have established their purchasing habits. Versions of the first Fabric of Our Lives commercials included Aaron Neville and Phoebe Snow. Later, a new generation of celebrity included Zoey Deschanel, Miranda Lambert and Hayden Panettiere. The spots included a quick look into their closets, a view of their lifestyles and strong web-based and social media content, helping to drive consumers to cotton purchases.

At its height, cotton’s share of the retail apparel and home furnishing market consistently hovered at or above 60 percent for several years.

Importance Of Target Markets
Today, with more diverse television programming, Cotton Incorporated is able to refine the advertising in markets to appeal to the target audience. As a result, those outside of the target group may see less of the advertising directed to a primarily female audience.

In 2011, when cotton prices hit record highs, brands and retailers began to look to alternatives to cotton, and market share dropped. Because manmade fiber is more uniform, easier to spin and, most importantly, cheaper than cotton, manufacturers have been shifting out of cotton, despite manmade fibers’ tendencies to be less comfortable and retain odor. However, today cotton is significantly more price competitive than in the spike of 2011, thus more appealing to retailers and brands’ bottom lines.

According to the Cotton Incorporated Lifestyle Monitor, cotton is the preferred fiber of consumers by a wide margin. The Fabric of Our Lives commercials have helped solidify that preference, and the newest favorite commercials are calling for active participation by checking labels for cotton content.

The Cotton Board, which administers Cotton Incorporated’s Research and Promotion Program, contributed information for this story.

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