the grass is greener on the internet

Why so tied to Tide?
March 16, 2009, 3:50 pm
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P&G has made big waves in the social media community with their first foray – after letting everybody else test the water they’ve waded into the fray by inviting the best and brightest to their offices with the task of selling as many Tide tshirts as they can.

Plenty of buzz, rounded off nicely by donating proceeds of the exercise to charity.

My question is…why did they choose Tide?

…it can’t be just so they could use the phrase ‘Loads of Hope’. Or I hope not.

(You will find quite a few books about Tide and the way it changed P&G history, most of which have exploited the wealth of phrases included the word ‘tide’. You’ve been warned.)

Now I’m not saying it was a bad choice but for a company with such a wide array of brands and evidently a strategic outlook you have to wonder…why did they choose this one?

After all, P&G isn’t exactly short of brands to work with. I’ve even heard P&G speakers claim that the company invented branding as we know it. There’s big – and highly marketable – names like these:

A couple of thoughts on why they might have chosen Tide…

  • Laundry powder has a wide appeal, is suitable to all markets and unoffensive – it’s not like it’s Tampax.
  • The product doesn’t generate its own hype – so it’s neutral ground to test the effectiveness of social media.
  • Youth, the demographic most associated with social media, is less picky about their laundry powder. (If they buy it at all.)
  • Tide has been a key brand in P&G’s history – they might want to use it to open a new chapter.
  • Let’s face it…a Tide pun lifts up even the worst news.
  • It’s not a bad logo for the face of a charity campaign. Not unlike Obama’s campaign logo.
  • The tees are apparently ‘cool/hip/retro‘ – is this the next ‘make poverty history’ band?

But surely they considered using other brands? I mean…

  • For the same reasons as above, Tide is a key brand in the portfolio and there’s a lot to lose.
  • Buzz around laundry powder? Laundry powder? It’s a tough sell. Are you going to get a good feel for what social media can do by limiting yourself?
  • When your proceeds go to disaster relief, ‘Tide’ might not be what they want to hear…
  • There have been other Tide tshirts already on sale (for much cheaper) and the style it evokes has a niche appeal.
  • Surely another brand like Pringles would be just as effective – if not more.

All of these could affect the effectiveness of the exercise, given the aims of investigating social media and figuring out who’s best at it.

So why did they pick Tide?

[I guess, more simply…the Tide brand manager could have been the one to come up with the project.]


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