I was at a dinner party at my sister’s last Friday when I came across this box of tissues from Trader Joe’s. Now, in most cases if you’re blogging about tissue boxes you’re scraping the bottom of the idea barrel. But this is different. These tissues are downright charming. Reading one panel is so much fun, you want to read the next. And the next. Goofy woodcut graphics accompany sweet, endearing lines like:

    • “I’m there when you’re sad. love, tissue
    • “I’m there when you need to pick up icky things. kindly, tissue
    • “I’m there when you’re sick.” feel better, tissue
    • “I’m there when you run out of toilet paper.” you’re welcome, tissue

Basically, Trader Joe’s is using the box as a six-panel OOH ad platform for Trader Joe’s brand sensibility. Could Kleen-X or another tissue brand get away with this? Doubt it. But TJ fans love them some TJ in a special way. Trader Joe’s turns food shopping into a fun, kinda’ corny experience — part adventure, part treasure hunt, part savings bonanza, that people can’t get enough of.

There’s a good dollop of “meta” messaging going on here, as well. It’s a box printed with friendly, folksy messages, the kind of thing a friend would say to you if you were sick, or needed a hand. Of course, boxes generally speaking are incapable of friendship. Trader Joe’s (unlike most brands, which credit people with little more than a bovine sophistication) knows you’re smart enough to know that,and then goes ahead and has fun with the conceit anyway.  It’s like a secret handshake of knowingness, between Trader Joe’s and that select slice of consumers smart enough, or hip enough, to know the score.

Kudos to the anonymous TJ creative team responsible. Work like this — nicely crafted, alert to hidden creative possibilities, mindful the folks media-savvy — is the kind of stuff Howard Gossage would have loved.

Top of the delightfully charming tissues from Trader Joe's