As you may have heard, there’s a new viral challenge spreading through social media. You may have heard of a few others that have come and gone, such as the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, the Cinnamon Challenge, the Mannequin Challenge and many more. But none of these viral challenges have caused any PR crises until the Tide Pod Challenge came along.
In case you haven’t heard, the Tide Pod Challenge began with teenagers from across the country posting videos of themselves eating laundry detergent pods. Mostly Tide Pods were the ones being misused, but there are other brands that have made appearances in these videos. With that in mind, Tide drew the short stick when the challenge was named after their brand.
So, what’s the big deal? Tide specifically instructs people not to eat the pods on their containers, so is it their fault if people do? I’ll tell you this, it doesn’t matter. When people start getting sick from this challenge, it reflects poorly on the Tide brand. Even though they’re not directly encouraging the challenge, consumers who see this happening will automatically have a negative perception of Tide Pods. What matters is that once something like this goes viral, there’s no stopping it until people lose interest in the challenge like all challenges before it.
When I first heard of this challenge, the first thought that crossed my mind wasn’t “how could someone be that stupid?” I thought to myself “man, I really wonder how Tide is going to fix this PR crisis.” I saw tweets from Tide that told people to seek medical attention if they or someone they know ate a Tide Pod. But I didn’t see any advertisements on television or other forms of media.
Then the Super Bowl came around. Other than the Eagles winning, the highlight of the event was seeing what crazy commercials they had in store for us. One that stood out among the rest was Tide’s multi-themed commercial starring David Harbour. The commercial is called “it’s a Tide ad.” The idea of this commercial is taking cliché ideas for advertisements from all the different industries and correcting the viewer by saying “nope, it’s a Tide ad.”
Let me tell you why I think this commercial was a good example of clever marketing. Tide turned a bunch of overused cliché themes and mashed them into one original idea montage. They cast the lovable David Harbour, famously known for his recent role on the Netflix series Stranger Things. If you watch the video, you’ll notice that there is no mention of Tide Pods, just regular Tide detergent. They want to move focus away from the pods and refocus the consumer’s attention on their original product to remind us of how we used to know Tide. The slogan they used in this ad was “if its clean, its Tide,” reminding us of the only purpose for using Tide laundry detergent.
Ultimately, what Tide really needed was for either the challenge to lose popularity, or something else to distract consumers from the wrongful consumption of pods. And this commercial does a good job of accomplishing just that. Now when I hear Tide I think of David Harbour saying “nope, it’s a Tide ad.” So remember if its clean, it’s Tide. And if it’s a Tide Pod, don’t eat it.
This blog post was written by Account Associate Eamonn Sullivan.