Tide playfully hijacks other brands’ ad campaigns at the Super Bowl
SPOTTED: The insight behind the ads
Tide’s 2018 Super Bowl campaign co-opts other advertising styles to demonstrate just how ubiquitous and effective the detergent brand is. Viewers have been left charmed by the spot, as its clever self-awareness plays into a very particular sense of referential humor. We discover the insights behind why internet humour is seeping into mainstream media.
In BBDO’s ‘Every Ad is a Tide Ad’ Super Bowl campaign — which aired a different spot each quarter break — Tide hijacks other brands’ advertising tropes for its own gain. In each one, actor David Harbour appears as an interloper in another brand’s commercial — from the macho absurdity of an Old Spice spot to the somber tone of a health insurance company — just to point out the actors’ clothes are all spotless thanks to Tide detergent. Because of its wry self-awareness, the ad won the Super Clio award and went viral across social media, with the first spot being viewed more than 3.8 million times within two days of being posted on YouTube.
People are experiencing ad fatigue, partly because commercials have become so predictable. Research from YouGov has found that 61% of American adults are more likely to dislike advertising than like it, while 76% of people block ads online and skip them on the TV. As a result, brands from Gucci to Denny’s have been leveraging internet memes to reconnect with viewers.
But as Hudson Hongo writes in New York Magazine, rather than force itself into the content cycle, brands that channel how internet humor “is often incomprehensibly self-referential” and take joy in reappropriating existing content in new forms are often a hit with viewers. By tapping into viewers’ sense of humor — instead of just pandering to it as other meme-making brands have — Tide has found a way to resonate with an audience in a noisy media landscape.
Rebecca Smith is a behavioral analyst at Canvas8, which specializes in behavioral insights and consumer research. She has worked with a number of global brands to help them better understand the mindsets of their audiences, from what people want from fake tan to how they feel about technology. Outside of work, you’ll find her binge-watching anime or with her nose stuck in a fantasy novel.