The internet and industry is still aflutter over Sunday’s showing of Super Bowl ads. And, of course, all eyes are on the brand that turned every one of those spots into a marketing play of their own. Yep. This is a Tide post.

The series of spots was a smart approach, one that hijacked the commercial-watching holy day. It cleverly drew viewers into the concept, and tricked them into think about Tide during each and every spot, no matter the advertiser.

Like we said, everyone’s been talking about it – inside the industry and out. So. Rather than summarize the campaign and tweet out “This was brilliant!”, we wanted to break down exactly what it was that each specific department liked about the campaign. Because, Tide wasn’t just a creative success, a media masterpiece, or a stroke of strategic genius. It was all of those things. It was a collaborative choir with stellar high notes from every player.  So we came together to write this blog post, discuss how this campaign went right in all the right ways, and, of course, call out each other’s misspellings like stains on a shirt.

In My Humble Creative Opinion – Kelsey Miller, Copywriter

It’s going to be hard for me to just talk about the creative. Because, honestly, I loved so much about this campaign. It all worked together seamlessly – stainlessly? I genuinely believe that without the media approach, the social support, or the account management (holy shit, props to that team, I can’t even imagine what it took to get this thing off the ground), I don’t think this would have been the smash hit that it was.   

But, overall, from the creative side of things, what stood out to me was how much the work blended in. The total commitment to the styles of advertisements being parodied was borderline insane. The amount of effort that went into making each and every scene perfectly match its genre – all for roughly FOUR SECONDS of each. Just wow. I mean, they even had ad folks fooled. We’re the most skeptical viewers. We were the ones looking out for these spots the most. And still. That Budweiser spoof fooled every single one of us. Tell me I’m wrong and I still won’t believe you. And that Old Spice one? Bamboozled. The pharma ad? Straight-swindled. That was the best part, in my opinion. Leaning into that advertising wallpaper camouflage we’re all warned about, and then flipping it on its head. The spots themselves, individually, weren’t amazing. Mr. Clean dancing around. Funny. Award-worthy? Nah. Memorable? Not really. But all those parts together? Totally breakthrough.

So. To sum it all up. When it comes to Brand Bowl 52, Tide was the clear winner. The rest of the competition, I’d say, was a wash. And yes. I have been waiting to use that pun since approximately 8pm EST Sunday. So with that, I’m out.

Through The Consumer’s Lens – Bianca D’Elia, Account Director

As viewer in real time, I missed the :45 set up spot for the campaign but the :15’s broke through the clutter and stood out – mostly because of the parody of the typical (or even clichéd at this point) Super Bowl spots across various categories. And I really thought the use of the actor from Stranger Things was smart. It was key to have someone recognizable to a younger audience.

There was certainly a lot of buzz for Tide within the ad industry, but, if my parents serve as an informal focus group of 2 consumers, my observation is the spot went right over their heads. They are likely not the target audience, my mom is pushing 70 years old, but she does buy laundry detergent. I don’t necessarily think it was a miss for the brand, though. Because even if they didn’t get the references in the individual spots, they both still know and remember Tide’s Super Bowl commercials. And isn’t that the point?

The Strategy-Side of Things – Zach Simons, Digital Strategist

Strategically, I loved the idea of hijacking everyone else’s spots. I know I spent the rest of the game thinking “is this a Tide ad?” It also made any spot with people in dirty clothes stand out that much more. I don’t think I’ll be able to stop noticing that in commercials now. And, thus, I’ll think about Tide.

Once you have a concept which is that sticky, the engagement possibilities are seemingly limitless. There’s the immediate desire (or maybe the Monday Morning rush) to social media to see what else they did. How many other parodies are there? What kinds of advertising tropes did they lampoon, that we didn’t even realize are trite enough for satire? The conversation took off, and you even have the likes of Betty White and Antonio Brown tweeting Tide Ad jokes.

Even the simplicity of the hashtag is great (#TideAd) – it is a brand’s dream to own a hashtag that memorable, and yet that simple. Oh, and the gifs. The campaign seems to have been designed specifically for gif-sharing. It really is brilliant.

Finally, whether they intended this from the outset or not, this campaign was a great strategy for distracting from the PR issue that they’ve had with the Tide Pod Challenge. However, I am still not 100% convinced that they weren’t enjoying the publicity they were getting from telling people not to eat the plump little packs of candy-colored poison. Did you forget about that already too?

Co-Branding Done Right – Marisa Corona, Associate Social Media & PR Strategist

Tide took a risk with this campaign. Not only did they break the fourth wall in their spots, but they also shared their airtime. Several of the spots seemingly gave more time to other brands (Mr. Clean, Old Spice) than its own. Granted, these are both sister-brands under Procter & Gamble. But it was still a risk. Miss the Tide ending, and viewers miss the whole point.

Or was it a risk?  Strategically speaking, yes, these are all Tide ads, but we keep referring to the spots as “The Old Spice one” and “The Mr. Clean One”. The budget may have been big, but it seems to have gotten a lot of bang for the P&G buck.

And the amplification of this budget and co-branding in the social-sphere was almost as entertaining and engaging as the spots themselves. A few of my personal co-branded banter favorites were Old Spice’s take on their own Tide scent, and spokesperson Isaiah Mustafa’s own input on Tide. I also loved Mr. Clean’s Twitter reaction, pretending to be caught off guard. Of course, as we said, these are all P&G brands, so the idea that this stark white cleaning wizard was actually surprised is doubtful. But still. Well played.

A few P&G outsiders also joined the fun, including the NFL itself. M&M also chimed in tying Tide to its own spot, further amplifying its own time in the spotlight.

This overall approach created a “clean” start for a brand overturning a crisis (planned timing or not), and a new standard of collaboration.

I’m looking forward to more Tide ads and Tide-inspired ads in the days to come.

Kudos to a Killer Execution – Matt Haritan, Executive Producer

Parody has been done before in Super Bowl ads but (to my knowledge) never on a scale this grand. Every detail of every modern advertising cliché was nailed with absolute perfection.

My hat’s off to Rattling Stick / Traktor and directors, Sam Larsson and Patrick von Krusenstjerna. Also to the VFX team at The Mill for making every scene feel convincingly real and true to the original spots.

The Collective Verdict

What Matt said. Kudos on the collaboration Tide team.

Smith Brothers
Smith Brothers

Tinker. Meddle. Find what works – this time! While most agencies stand behind a single, definitive approach to developing work, we reject the notion of process as a static thing. We consider a deep understanding of the client’s business, their consumer and especially their category to be fundamental to our process. Non-negotiable. But getting to the best work is seldom a straight shot – a linear path. And it shouldn’t be. When you kick off every project by asking, “What are the category conventions and how can we break them?” you have to be open to a fresh approach.