A Look at the Most Viral Tide Commercials: How to Use Humor in Video Marketing

Tide is a well-established laundry detergent that also has a long history of advertising excellence–especially on TV. The brand’s unique combination of humor, brand awareness, and advertising strategy has led them to launch multiple viral ad campaigns over the past several years.

In each instance, there are multiple tactics at play. Tide combines high-quality, humorous content with influencer marketing strategies, hashtag campaigns, and relatable life scenarios. In each instance, the brand offers its products as the solutions to these relatable scenarios, while the humor makes them memorable.

Let’s take a look at how Tide uses humor effectively in its video marketing campaigns. Here are four of the most viral commercials Tide has produced recently.

1. When is Later?

For the 2020 Super Bowl, Tide aired the commercial “When is Later?”, a short, humorous piece. The commercial leveraged influencer marketing using actors Charlie Day (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) and Emily Hampshire (Schitt’s Creek).

The main character, played by Day, gets a stain on his shirt at a Super Bowl party. When Hampshire says to wash it later, Day’s character has an existential crisis–something most people (especially overthinkers) can relate to, at least from time to time.

After all, how many people get buffalo sauce on their shirts during Super Bowl? And how many of us fear a sauce stain setting in before we can properly wash our favorite shirt? Even more than that, how many of us debate whether to miss part of the party to do laundry, or whether to just let the stain go and let the chips fall where they may? (Maybe literally, in this case.)

Tide offers a simple solution to this totally relatable problem in its Power PODS® product. The core message: it’s okay to wait until later to do your laundry. Tide’s got your back (and your shirt).

2. It’s A Tide Ad

Now let’s take a look at Tide’s Super Bowl ad from 2018. It features actor David Harbour (Stranger Things), and it’s a humorous take on Tide’s long-standing brand awareness among consumers.

This viral Tide commercial grabs viewers’ attention right away, and keeps it because it’s innovative–and it subverts their anticipation. Viewers initially think the TV spot is a car ad, but it quickly morphs into a long montage of Harbour in different scenarios (on a farm, as an insurance adjuster–you get the idea). In each scenario, everyone is wearing sparkling-clean clothes…even the mechanic working under a car.

“Look at those clean clothes,” Harbour quips. “What else would this be an ad for?”

The longer “It’s a Tide Ad” goes on, the funnier it gets. It starts as a vague series of generic scenes that could belong in any commercial (except with amazingly clean clothes, of course). As each scene–such as a diamond commercial–progresses, Harbour interrupts to remind viewers, “Nope. It’s a Tide ad.”

About halfway through the commercial, “It’s a Tide Ad” shifts from being a parody of the brand itself to being a blatant parody of other well-known brands’ ads, too–including Old Spice and Mr. Clean. (At one point, Harbour shares a tandem horse–you read that right–with the Old Spice Guy, who proclaims, “I’m in a Tide ad,” as diamonds and a bottle of Tide rise from his open palm.)

This advertising tactic works best for major brands with a high level of awareness of what they do. You can find another great example of this tactic in Geico’s commercials. Have you ever noticed that they get attention, but they don’t talk much about insurance?

If your brand is known for doing one specific thing well–and you can parody yourself while maintaining your authentic brand voice–this tactic might work well for you. It’s even better if you have sister brands, partner brands, or affiliate brands you could go in with for an extra-funny punch.

3. Mega Modern Family

Tide’s 2019 TV spot, “Mega Modern Family,” is a humorous take on a common situation: piles of laundry in a multi-generational home. Having so many people in one home means a lot of laundry, a lot of time, and a lot of money.

Tide offers its money-saving solution in the form of Tide PODS, while getting its point across effectively thanks to the humor. Not only is there a lot of laundry to do when three generations live in one house–there’s also the very real danger of your elderly father-in-law walking through the living room sans pants.

If your brand offers a simple solution for humans with relatable problems, you can leverage humor in your advertisements. People look for brands they can relate to. If you can showcase a stellar product by using humor to show them exactly how it can help, you’re more likely to maintain a relatable brand.

4. I Didn’t Do It

Again, Tide brilliantly leverages real-world, relatable humor in “I Didn’t Do It”, a short TV spot featuring a dad and the crazy stains his kids “didn’t” leave on their clothes. The commercial plays on the popular kids’ mantra, “I didn’t do it!”

Tide uses the pain point of the difficulty of parenting kids–who are inherently messy–and showing some of the ways in which they can absolutely demolish their clothes. The ad reinforces the idea that even the most ridiculously difficult stains (like paint and bright red spaghetti sauce) can be treated by this product.

Tide also uses this commercial to communicate that parents have one less reason to stress at the end of the day. After all, as long as the laundry is covered–no matter what the kids did to it–you can breathe a little easier.

Conclusion

These viral Tide commercials have a lot in common with one another. Most use relatable situations infused with humor. They lightheartedly poke fun at the brand while reinforcing the product’s effectiveness and offering it as a solution to a number of familiar problems.

In addition to great content, Tide put in the extra work to set up hashtag campaigns for their most viral tide commercials (particularly #1 and #2 above). Then, they leaned into embracing unconventional but attention-grabbing storytelling to spread the word across their marketing platforms.

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Author: Ana Gotter

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