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“Tide Pod Challenge”

Written by: Account Executive, Sophie Eng



One of the weirdest trends to take over 2018 so far is the “Tide Pod Challenge,” in which people are eating–yes, eating–Tide Pods. It is unknown where this trend started, or how, but soon enough almost everyone was engaging in this dangerous activity. In the aftermath of the infamous “Tide Pod Challenge,” Tide’s public relations team had no choice but to take significant action. Tide needed to remind their consumers of what their product was really for: laundry, and only laundry.


With the Super Bowl right around the corner, Tide saw an opportunity to create an influential advertising campaign. With the help of their media, creative and public relations agencies, Tide created a series of ads that had the entire country waiting for more. By having an ad during each quarter of the game, Tide was able to steal the non-Tide advertising spots implying to viewers that every ad could be an ad for the Proctor & Gamble brand.


While it was an expensive risk that fortunately paid off, there was still a challenge in making sure their commercials made a substantial impact on their viewers. Tide needed these ads to change the conversation that was currently surrounding the brand.

The first step was finding a spokesperson that would catch people’s attention, which is exactly what Stranger Things star David Harbour achieved. With the phenomenon that is Stranger Things, David Harbour is a face that has been playing on almost every computer, TV and tablet screen. Seeing a face as familiar and popular as Harbour’s gave the commercial that initial appeal that brought viewers in from the start. By the end of the game, Harbour had made almost as big of an impact as Eagles quarterback Nick Foles.

Tide’s final strategy was to secretly make every ad a Tide ad. Tide and their agencies faked out their audience by disguising their ads behind classic portrayals of the Old Spice Man or Mr. Clean, both of which are also Proctor & Gamble brands. By placing Harbour in the quintessential scene of the Old Spice Man riding a horse down the beach, viewers were meant to immediately think the ad was for Old Spice, before realizing that in fact, “It’s a Tide ad.” This phrase soon became the joke of the night, and quickly after, the joke of the week.


By the end of the night Tide had almost 164,000 mentions on Twitter and only 11,000 of those mentions featuring #TidePodChallenge. It was clear at the end of the game that Tide had achieved their goal. People had quickly forgotten one of the biggest–and weirdest–trends of 2018 and Tide had renewed their spot as a popular detergent brand.