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Brand Spotlight: Why Tide is the Real Super Bowl Champion

After over a decade of evaluating Super Bowl advertising & game trends, there are a few things we know we can count on: the winning team’s coach getting doused in Gatorade, halftime shows that send Twitter into a frenzy, and Tide ads making a run for the end zone.

Tide has worked hard over the years to establish themselves firmly in the Super Bowl ad space, and it has paid off. Despite some touch and go performances within the TV or Online/Social Indexes over the years, the iconic laundry detergent brand has really hit their stride when it comes to brand memorability (the ability for viewers to recall both the ad and the brand associated with the ad). Anyone can create a likable one-off ad, but it takes a deliberate strategy based on consistency to really bring a brand into the end zone.

According to data from our specialized Super Bowl 360 Report, Tide’s dedication to strong consistency in the market over time has given them a leg up on other in-game advertisers. They even got credit for an ad that wasn’t theirs during the 2019 Super Bowl (more on that later), which demonstrates how their regularity in the Big Game has caused viewers to automatically link Tide to the Super Bowl, whether they are aware of it or not.

Off to the Races

In the 2017 Super Bowl, Tide aired their #BradshawStain ad, along with one other, which earned them an overall brand level brand linkage of 79%. That is a relatively high score for that metric, but not compared to performance in Super Bowls to follow. Highlighting legendary football player and sports analyst Terry Bradshaw (and his evident love for BBQ) was a perfect way to link the ad to the context of the game, and did a great job of capturing viewers’ attention. This ad clocked in with a brand memorability score of 51%, which is right in line with Tide’s typical brand memorability performance of 45%-50%, and earned them the #7 spot on our Super Bowl LI top ads index. Pretty impressive, but Tide was just getting warmed up.

Kicking Off Creative Continuity

In 2018, Tide debuted their “in-game sequence” advertising strategy in It’s a Tide Ad, which featured actor David Harbour in a total of five shorter ads in length that tie together for one cohesive storyline. Just your typical Super Bowl laundry detergent ad, right? This approach utilizes creative continuity (a proven tactic used by Bud Light), which is a great way to boost branding. However, what really stood out to us about these ads was the unusually high Online/Social Index they drew. Tide’s unique ad series drew significant online chatter throughout, which only grew as the impact built from spots 1-3. It is also worth noting that most ads experience a sharp drop-off in social interactions after their ad airs, giving way to talk of subsequent ads. Tide’s clever ads piggy-backed off one another, helping each to achieve a high number of Twitter interactions in particular.

You’re Still in a Tide Ad

Tide may have taken a year off from Super Bowl advertising in 2019, but that didn’t mean their branding had to sit on the sidelines. During the 2019 Super Bowl, Persil aired an ad that a whopping 33% of viewers ended up attributing to Tide. People are used to seeing Tide ads in the Super Bowl, and this accidental brand linkage is a perfect example of how strong branding can still hold an impact on viewers long after an ad airs.

In 2020, Tide returned to the Big Game with a reprise of their creative continuity strategy, with a series of four ads themed #LaundryLater. These ads, which featured actor and comedian Charlie Day, brought Tide’s highest level of brand level brand linkage yet at 90%. Their use of repeat exposure throughout the game helped reinforce the brand continuously and earned them four of the top ten spots on our Super Bowl LIV top ad ranker. Take over the Phoenix MI Super Bowl ad ranker now, laundry later.

Speaking of Top Ad Rankers…

Tide’s recent high performance might come as a shock to most people, as many of the other online ad rankers don’t even rank Tide in the top 10. Most other Super Bowl data out there tells a one-sided story and only focuses on one metric: likeability. While an important factor to consider, likeability alone is not enough to gauge how an ad truly performs, especially in a real-world environment.

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