What’s cooler than Tide laundry detergent? Only one thing: a video about Tide laundry detergent!
At least that’s the case if you talk to "Fred Hammond," the brand's "director of digital video and social media ad integration," who recently took a moment to share his excitement in that paragon of journalistic integrity, The Onion:
“I know most of you have probably watched this Tide detergent clip dozens of times already because it went viral so quickly, but if you haven’t, then trust me on this one, you have got to see it. But hey, I don’t want want to ruin it for you. Just take a minute to check it out for yourself at the Tide website or Facebook.com/Tide, or check out Tide’s totally awesome YouTube channel, which is like a treasure trove of cool, popular videos that everyone loves.”
Of course, Hammond doesn’t actually work for Tide, The Onion isn’t exactly a real newspaper. While some companies bristle at their trademarked brands being lampooned in such a way (such was Coca-Cola’s initial reaction during the Diet Coke-and-Mentos craze), Tide’s response was the polar opposite: Its creative team immediately ran with the story, actually producing a real video based on the fake video and posting it to the company’s YouTube page.
“We couldn’t help but laugh and have a little fun with it,” said Sarah Pasquinucci, a spokesperson for Procter & Gamble. “We can always laugh at ourselves. We, and I am sure other brands, could relate to the crux of the article—navigating a social media world with a brand (like detergent) that might not seem an obvious fit into the landscape and conversation.”
This actually isn’t Tide’s first foray into response marketing. Earlier this year, during the Daytona 500, a crash saw nearly 200 gallons of jet fuel spill from a dryer onto the surface of Daytona International Speedway, igniting an intense fire. Safety workers rushing to the scene to extinguish and clean up the mess did so with Tide. It’s the kind of product placement most marketers can only dream about, and the brand leaped on the opportunity. Procter & Gamble not only put out a press release that added jet fuel to the list of stains Tide can eliminate, but also created a commercial based on the event.
Pasquinucci said Tide’s entire marketing team keeps an eye out for unusual promotion possibilities such as with the Daytona 500 and The Onion article. But she said this year’s highly publicized rash of Tide thefts from grocery stores was not one of them.
For the Onion response video, Pasquinucci said the team “worked quickly to agree on our reaction plan” and “tried to create the video as they elusively described it in the article.” Along with digital agency Digitas, they came up with a Bret Michaels look-alike (carefully noting in a video caption that it was not actually the 1980s rocker) and singing puppets. A final touch at the end of the video was one of the puppets asking, “Are we trending yet?” and the inclusion of the hashtag #Tidepower.
Tide’s spoof video has only about 7,000 views so far, which hardly makes it a viral success, but Pasquinucci said it’s more about reaching the consumer "in the right way, at the right time, with the right message."