Tide only bought 90 seconds in overall commercial time during all four quarters of the Superbowl, but they used it for massive effect. The company succeeded in turning every ad into a Tide ad.
There was a plethora of fantastic ads during the Superbowl this year, but Tide definitely dominated. Half way through the game, everyone was questioning if all Superbowl commercials are really Tide ads. This was a brilliantly planned and executed marketing campaign on many levels. Much can be learned from #TideAd and applied to others.
The basic idea
In a series of ads mimicking famous Superbowl characters and themes including Mr. Clean, the Old Spice guy, beer, cars, and insurance David Harbour appears informing us that actually these are Tide ads. In fact, any commercial with clean clothes is really a Tide ad he points out.
This is a simple, but powerful idea. By telling the audience that clean clothes equals a Tide ad, reality was destroyed. Suddenly any commercial during the Superbowl--past, present, and future could be a Tide ad. Thus Tide hijacked the entire game. Even if an ad turned out not to be about the detergent, people still had Tide on their mind. Seeing a bright white shirt now invokes the message of #TideAd.
Strategy is the beginning of a great campaign
Procter & Gamble dominated Superbowl commercials through a unique strategy drawing on many strengths.
Since Superbowl commercials this year cost $5 million per 30 second spot, the Tide brand had to use their limited resources wisely. They chose to have a 45 second establishing ad during the first quarter that set up for three other 15 second spots sprinkled throughout the rest of the game.
P&G also capitalized on celebrity star power through the use of David Harbour (from Stranger Things). Having a known celebrity helped initially grab people's attention. Also, Stranger Things is about weird happenings with monsters on a parallel world to our own. In a similar way, Tide peaks the interest of the audience by making us question the reality of other Superbowl commercials. Every ad has people wearing clean cloths, so are all ads actually Tide ads?
To further capitalize on limited exposure time, Tide used paid celebrity social media posts. Celebrities that have appeared in Superbowl ads in the past were targeted. The likes of Betty White asked, "Was I really in a Tide ad?" This appealed to viewers who were probably on their phones or tablets during the game.
Overcoming PR problems
The success of the Superbowl Tide ads is a welcome relief from the recent Tide Pod challenge scandal that has been plaguing the company. P&G has been forced to spend money on celebrity PSAs, social media posts, and commercials telling people to not eat Tide Pods. They are extremely dangerous and should not be eaten. Hopefully #TideAd can stem the spread of bad PR brought on by Tide Pods and allow the company to recover.
We'll have to see, but #TideAd might be the most successful Superbowl campaign of all time.
Ethan Hausmann is currently the Vice President of Marketing and Community Outreach for Successtar Enterprises LLC. He is an author, professional speaker, and seminar/workshop instructor. Ethan has extensive knowledge and experience in marketing, customer service, leadership, and other small business related concerns.