Tide’s Charitable Makeover

Procter & Gamble has redesigned its Tide detergent bottles, as part of a cause marketing program to raise funds for disaster relief. The packaging change is the most significant in the brand’s 60-year history.

The new packaging shows faces of real people Tide has helped, including those affected by Hurricane Katrina. Tide, to date, has churned out 30,000 loads of clean laundry for New Orleans residents. The new design is denoted by Tide’s “yellow cap.” Major retailers will carry the bottles through June.

“Loads of Hope” is Tide’s cause marketing program and the redesign is the latest component. Tide already donates 100 percent of funds from specially designed vintage T-shirts to disaster relief.

With the new bottles, P&G is donating 10 cents from each sale to disaster efforts. It has also teamed up with hunger-relief organization Feeding America—formerly known as Second Harvest—for the launch.

“’Loads of Hope’ is a key pillar for the Tide brand going forward. It’s the No. 1 driver of traffic to Tide.com, the No. 1 source of positive consumer verbatim and testimonials in our consumer relations group,” said P&G fabric care external relations manager Kash Shaikh. “A key part of what we’re doing is to connect with consumers.”

P&G’s reasoning is that charitable giving is much easier when it’s built into a common or everyday purchase, such as detergent. The company made the same argument behind a charity-themed brandSAVER! coupon book launch last month.

P&G—which spent $107 million advertising Tide last year in the U.S. (excluding onnline), per Nielsen—is promoting the bottles in a TV campaign, via Saatchi & Saatchi, New York. One ad, running this month, opens with disaster footage and then the Tide “Loads of Hope” mobile laundromat coming to the rescue. “It feels so good to be able to know that I’ve got clean clothes,” one woman says in the ad. “You don’t know how very basic essentials are until you have none,” another echoes in the spots. “

Paul Leinwand, a vp at consulting firm Booz & Co., said since the packaging change comes with a short shelf life of only three months, it could cause issue for P&G on the retail end. “The problem with that is it’s just introducing a lot of complexities for the retailers,” Leinwand said, adding that shelf space in the detergent aisle is precious. “These efforts are often more successful when part of a bigger effort, which is often easier for retailers and for consumers to understand,” he said.

P&G, however, has not completely ruled out the idea of extending the shelf life of repackaged Tide bottles. The company said it will wait and see how the product performs in terms of sales.