Tide Washed Away a Crisis Thanks to a House of Brands Marketing Structure

Feb 5, 2019

After Super Bowl LIII we’re feeling a little nostalgic for last year’s epic Eagles win. (Can you even blame us? Philly Special — enough said.)

And last February, it wasn’t just the the Eagles who were the night’s big winners. The media dubbed Tide the unofficial victor of the best commercial competition.

The ads, featuring David Harbour of Stranger Things, successfully co-opted commercial clichés to get audiences to relate clean clothes to Tide.

This time last year, Tide was in major need of a win.Teenagers were taking to social media with the Tide Pod Challenge. Sales had plummeted to the lowest in 9 years.

A coordinated crisis response

The company executed a comprehensive response to the Tide crisis, including a PSA featuring New England Patriot Rob Gronkowski. But for their Super Bowl ad, they effectively shifted attention away from the issue in a creative way.

Most notably, one spot referenced one of the most iconic Super Bowl ads of all time — the Old Spice “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” ad from 2010. How did they do that?

Building a Better House of Brands

Tide was able to borrow on a positive association with Old Spice thanks to a well-executed marketing strategy on the part of its parent company, Procter and Gamble. P&G is structured as a “house of brands.” House of brands, as the name implies, gives each brand its own identity and voice. You know Tide, Old Spice and Mr. Clean more than you know P&G.

The alternative is a “branded house” strategy (think FedEx or Apple). With this, all products and services fall under a unified marketing effort.

P&G’s house of brands strategy meant Tide could borrow some of Old Spice’s positive brand sentiment when it needed it most. However, siloing your offerings is a more marketing-intensive approach that isn’t right for many organizations. For Tide, it happened to work out just perfectly.

Long story short: You don’t have to be a multi-industry conglomerate to benefit from building a game plan for how your products and services interact. Setting a smart strategy around when your marketing efforts should overlap and when they should remain distinct is key if your brand ever need to play a little defense.

This article also appeared in our weekly newsletter, Long Story Short. It was written by Alison Hopkins.

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