Behind the Tide Super Bowl Ad

How the award-winning spot played with the notion of what an ad should be

Procter & Gamble's Tide campaign played off ads from other brands in the company's stable, including Old Spice.

THE TIDE ADS that peppered this year's Super Bowl are expected to stir up a buzz at Cannes this week. The detergent maker was a big winner the night of Feb. 4 with its series of spots parodying stereotypical TV ads, including plugs for low budget insurance, beer, a new car, and even an Amazon Alexa ad. The one thing all of the Tide ads had in common: the spotlessly clean clothes everyone wore, as David Harbour, star of the Netflix hit “Stranger Things,” points out each time.
 “The goal was to show the power of cleaning of Tide without ever showing the stain,” says Vedran Miletic, brand director of Procter & Gamble Co.'s fabric-care business in North America, whose brands include Tide, Gain, Downy, Bounce and Dreft.
 P&G's advertisement for its detergent brand is a contender at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. The series, “It's a Tide Ad,” already has won several U.S. awards. Other commercials that are likely to make a splash at Cannes include Nike Inc.'s “Nothing Beats a Londoner” commercial, Apple Inc.'s “Welcome Home,” for its HomePod device, and “Barbers” for the iPhone 7, industry watchers say.
 “As a creative, you are always looking for these kind of ideas that become famous, relevant and part of pop culture, and help the brand to grow and help the agency,” says Javier Campopiano, the chief creative officer behind the Tide ad. “These kind of ideas are kind of like unicorns.”
 P&G, the world's largest advertiser, purchased 100 seconds of airtime during the Super Bowl for its detergent brand. Tide had ads in every quarter, including one 45-second spot, three 15-second spots and two five-second visual billboards that brought viewers back into the game while the announcer did a voice-over about it being another Tide ad.
 The Tide ad parodies, led and developed by Publicis Groupe's Saatchi & Saatchi New York, gained attention for deliberately playing with the idea of what a traditional ad should be.
 “We wanted to come up with an idea that was more of a program than just one ad,” says Mr. Campopiano, who left Saatchi & Saatchi for Foote, Cone & Belding in Mexico in May. “For an agency, it becomes about trying to win the night, trying to be the most beloved brand.” The Tide spots imitated other P&G brands' ads, and even resurrected the “Old Spice Guy” and seductive “Mr. Clean” commercials.
 “The Tide ads took advantage [of the fact] that they are part of a bigger parent company and could have some fun with these other brands,” says creative executive Eric Kallman, a co-founder of San Francisco-based ad agency Erich & Kallman, who worked on Old Spice ads. “The Tide Super Bowl takeover obviously did its job, which is create buzz and be on top of mind for consumers,” Mr. Kallman says.
 The Tide ads were funny, but the concept required viewers to see multiple versions as part of the humor, says Matt Smith, founder of Smith- Gifford Inc., an ad agency based in the Washington, D.C., area. He thought the ads also were “subconsciously destructive” to the industry because they were “turning their nose” on successful brands.
 Saatchi & Saatchi New York Chief Executive Andrea Diquez says the ads “never tried to make fun” of brands. The average price paid for a 30- second spot during the Super Bowl was more than $5 million. The Tide ad creators and P&G declined to disclose what they spent to produce or air their ads.
 “The Super Bowl is the biggest advertising moment in America every year that gives us in the industry a chance to communicate a message in one night to over 100 million people, which is very powerful, at a moment in which everyone is actually paying attention to advertising,” Mr. Miletic says.
 Ahead of the Super Bowl, Tide ran four video teasers online. During the game, the ad creators also posted the commercials on YouTube and social media. It also asked several influencers, such as Terry Bradshaw, Betty White, Antonio Brown and Isaiah Mustafa, to tweet about the ads.
 Tide was the brand that generated the most online mentions during the Super Bowl, with almost 164,000 social mentions (including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram), while a Mountain Dew and Doritos collaboration came in second with 115,100 mentions, according to Talkwalker, a social-media analytics and monitoring platform. The Tide Ad spots have been watched about seven million times on YouTube.
 “It was interesting to see people watching the commercials on TV, going to Twitter to tweet about it and then going back to the TV to see what comes next,” Mr. Campopiano says.
 “It's a Tide Ad” has won the Super Clio, three ANDY awards, five D&AD awards, five New York Festivals International Advertising Awards and 11 One Show awards, among others.
 “This idea to kind of hijack the game and make people wonder if each ad that was coming up was a Tide ad, that was really clever,” says Tim Nudd, editor in chief of the Clio Awards. “This would have only worked during the Super Bowl.”
 P&G has submitted 15 ads for awards consideration at the Cannes Lions. Last year's winners included Burger King's “The McWhopper Proposal,” Boost Mobile's “Boost Your Voice” and Cheetos' “Cheetos Museum.”


The Twitter Bowl

Tide's game plan and how it scored with its Super Bowl ad

'It's a Tide Ad' Facts
Tide purchased
100 seconds of air time during the Super Bowl
Tide commercial lengths
One 45-second, three 15-second and two 5-second ads
Average price to air
Super Bowl ad $5 million+ for 30 seconds.
Brand-related ad tweets for the official Twitter accounts of these selected 2018 Super Bowl ads
  Retweets Likes
Australia's 'Tourism Australia Dundee' 8,787 32,733
Tide 'It's a Tide Ad' 5,604 19,580
PepsiCo's 'Doritos Blaze vs. Mountain Dew Ice' 3,956 9,744
Amazon's 'Alexa Loses Her Voice' 2,025 7,601
Note: Through May 22
Sources: Procter & Gamble; The Wall Street Journal; Twitter



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