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Viral Review: Turning The ‘Tide’ On Super Bowl Ads

This article originally appeared in Campaign

It’s no secret that Super Bowl weekend is an embarrassment of riches for fans of top quality advertising. Even if you can’t tell a Tom Brady from a touchdown, it’s likely you’ll have seen at least one of the big game ads as they filtered across your social feeds in the last few days.

With brands putting the best agencies and tens of millions of dollars in ad spend into their 30 seconds of fame, the race for Super Bowl recognition is always hotly contested.

So what was the secret to success for Super Bowl LII (other than drafting in a hologram of Prince for the half-time show)?

One of the day’s undisputed winners was detergent brand Tide, whose fabulously meta ‘It’s a Tide Ad’ has been talked about a lot since Sunday. Starring Stranger Things’ grumpy but lovable cop David Harbour, the spot makes a bold proposition: that every ad which features actors wearing stainless clothes must, by necessity, be a Tide ad.




In essence, Tide has hijacked every other Super Bowl ad for its own purposes. And they’re absolutely delighted about it.

Running through a series of pitch-perfect parodies, Harbour appears in a stereotypical car ad, a beer ad and a surreal perfume ad, claiming that each is, in fact, a Tide ad.

Going further, they even take on specific brands, with Harbour sharing Old Spice Guy’s famous white horse and donning Budweiser’s wholesome rancher aesthetic.

This premise allows for some very canny takedowns of familiar advertising tricks, not to mention some hilarious editing moments. A particular highpoint is when Harbour interrupts a shaving ad by appearing suddenly in the mirror, horror film-style.

Of course, parodying the tropes of Super Bowl advertising isn’t anything new, but Tide has found themselves a brilliantly self-aware spin. Working with Saatchi & Saatchi, the spot has already generated over three million views since Super Bowl Sunday.

In part, this is thanks to Harbour. In an ad schedule jam-packed with celebrity cameos, Harbour is both recognisable but also versatile enough to fit seamlessly into a variety of different scenarios. Also, it helps to have someone sufficiently tough to take on Old Spice Guy on his home turf.

Considering the raft of terrific spots from last Sunday, Tide’s cheeky gambit may not have totally worked out. In any case, ‘It’s A Tide Ad’ is already looking like like a great example of comedy chops at the Super Bowl.