The Onion Lampoons Viral. Tide Runs With It.

Last week, The Onion ran a wonderfully fictitious article by “Fred Hammond, Director of Digital Video and Social-Media Ad Integration, Tide Detergent.” Onion, you had me at hello. The desperately hipster editorial promotes his own low-involvement brand, and all of the cool (yet faux) social-media programs that try to engage Tide customers. Clearly Fred has read my “Stupidest Article on Social Media Ever.”

My absolute favorite line: “Go to Tide’s website and hang there for a while. It’s a totally awesome place to go and play online games and meet other cool fans of Tide products.” Because we always want to hang out with fellow customers of our brands.

The article opens by making reference to an “awesome new web video by Tide detergent.” A video that “everyone is discussing it on popular blogs and linking to it from social media platforms.” Sadly, there is no such video.

But in a self-deprecating and timely display, Tide and Digitas filled that void. Embedded below, please find Tide’s very own lampoon, which has already gotten some industry trade magazine attention (MediaPost). Per The Onion, Tide provides a hip rocker, puppets and groovy 80s music. Just 10K views so far, but that beats the ExpoTV product reviews littering Tide’s YouTube channel with views as low as 15. Even more notable is the sheer number of positive “likes” the video has so far (even though we know where some of those are coming from). And the video ends well like those rare SNL skits. Meet the bird in the laundry basket who tweets the finale.

Tweet

Some brands have cringed from The Onion satire. Others would have ignored it and moved on. Tide and Digitas get credit for embracing it, and riding it fairly quickly — especially by P&G standards. Despite my temporary Twitter hiatus, I couldn’t help but notice an @nalts tweet by Digitas’ John McCarus (who I met while working on a different P&G brand). His self congratulatory tweet just fits the whole thing beautifully.

Now for the learning for brands and social media folks:

  • Laugh at yourself. It makes others laugh with you, instead of at you.
  • Humanize the brand as being self deprecating
  • Move quickly (this wouldn’t have worked as well if it took one more week to post)
And the final lesson is revealed in this priceless quote by the fake author: “Everybody in my office has been going crazy for this video. It’s practically all we’ve been talking about.” Do everything you can to avoid drinking your own Koolaid and thinking/communicating that your brand is way cooler than it is. Let other people tell me how cool your brand is. 
In appreciation of this campaign I promise to: a) buy Tide, b) give Digitas props, c) not sue P&G for infringing on my Nalts logo.


 

Author: Nalts

Hi. I'm Nalts.

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