How Procter and Gamble turned around the negative publicity surrounding Tide Pods with a well-choreographed Super Bowl advertising campaign using print, television and direct mail.


The internet memes were spilling over into Mom-land, which means my mom, who doesn’t even know what a meme is, knew about Tide Pods.

“This is no joking matter,” my mom said indignantly. “Kids think these Tide detergent Pods are candy and are eating them!”

Indeed, the publicity was not good for Tide and its parent company Procter and Gamble, a global consumer goods company.

The prevailing opinion was that the company had designed the detergent pods to look fun and colorful…and, inadvertently, yummy.

Even worse, people were eating them on a dare in something called The Tide Pod Challenge.

Under the radar, the company was generating negative PR for closing plants in Kansas and Iowa and moving some operations to West Virginia and Ohio. The Tide Pod tidal wave was not helping their image.

No matter how you looked at it, it seemed the best thing for Tide to do would be to pull the offending product and apologize.

Instead, imagine my surprise when I read the paper the Sunday morning of Super Bowl LII. TIDE WAS EVERYWHERE!

The iconic Tide detergent jug and and the rainbow-laden Pods packaging were in Target ads, grocery circulars, drugstore ads, and coupon books. They were even running clippable coupons inside the newspaper on the black-and-white news pages, for goodness sake!

Tide was going ALL IN on the print advertising.

I wondered what was up. When we tuned in to watch the Super Bowl, it wasn’t long before we had the answer. Great googley moogley!


Tide had gone CRAZY on the Super Bowl television ads as well! 

There were four, count ’em, four ads!  It was…. Bold. Clever. Relentless. Unapologetic.

The twitter sphere was all a flutter about the Tide spots disguised as ads for other products. People were calculating how many millions it cost in air time.

Even the @AdWeek Twitter account was congratulating P&G for a clever campaign. A few tweeters piped up with a brave, “But what about the Pods?” For the most part, though, people were reacting favorably.

Afterward, the sport blog “The Wrap” noted: “Tide removed a recent stain from its brand on Sunday.”

The Tide had turned.

Impressed by the print-TV media blitz, I thought the work by Tide’s advertising agency was done. However, the next day we received a Tide-heavy P&G coupon pack in our mailbox.

Lo and behold, they were upping the ante with direct mail!

And yesterday we received our local grocery circular for the week’s specials, delivered by postal carrier route saturation. There was the Tide jug and the Pods, taking up a quarter of the page with a bold $2 off coupon in a Mom-and-Pop ad shopper.

Tide was throwing down in print, in direct mail, and on television.

Already the TV campaign has been heralded a success, garnering a Super Clio for best campaign of the Super Bowl.

[Business Insider has a list of all the 2018 Super Bowl television ads here.]

If the goal of the Tide Super Bowl campaign was to clean up their image, they definitely moved the ball downfield. 

Best of all, print was a visible and pivotal strategy in this high-profile campaign!

The truth is, PRINT WORKS, and the biggest brands on Earth prove it every day.

Keep the multi channels flowing!

Read more from Sandy here.

Sandy Hubbard is a marketing strategist for printing companies. She builds sales and marketing programs that can be sustained over the long haul, with affordable tools and your own people…and without stress! Find @sandyhubbard on Twitter every Wednesday at 4 PM ET, assisting #PrintChat host Deborah Corn  @PrintMediaCentr  with a lively online discussion for printers and those who love print.




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