The makers of Charmin believe that we should all stop pretending that we don't read in the bathroom. In fact, in a lengthy new ad running in Rolling Stone magazine, Charmin says "everyone needs bathroom entertainment that goes beyond staring at tiles, marble slabs and showerheads." Charmin then makes the cheeky claim that the paper on which the ad is printed "sure is better than our competition." And while it's true that Charmin scored excellent for softness in Consumer Reports tests, it wasn't better than other brands on some key tasks and didn't make our list of top picks.
The Rolling Stone ad is just another indication of how Charmin has stopped tip-toeing around the delicate topic of bathroom habits. Earlier this year it offered consumers a "sit or squat" mobile phone app that rates the cleanliness of public restrooms based on user comments. In the eight-paragraph Rolling Stone ad Charmin proclaims, "When you go, you want to enjoy the go."
We totally agree. That's why we test toilet paper not only for softness but for strength, tearing ease and disintegration. None of the three varieties of Charmin in our tests made the recommended list. Two types scored excellent for softness and the third was very good. Tearing ease for all three was excellent as well. But Charmin Ultra Soft and Charmin Basic were mediocre on our strength tests. And the Ultra Soft and the Ultra Strong scored fair and poor for disintegration, which means they could be a problem for your pipes.
But when it comes to cleverness, we have to give Charmin a thumbs up. Mr. Whipple admonishing shoppers, "Please don't squeeze the Charmin," is an advertising classic. And with its historical references to Tolstoy and Sir John Harrington, the new ad is certainly a more interesting read than the shampoo bottle.
—Mary H.J. Farrell