Tide was still on the drawing board at Procter & Gamble Co., where executives were both rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of a disruptive new cleaning technology in synthetic detergents and wringing their hands over how it would affect their existing dominance in soap-flakes. They opted by 1947 to make their biggest business obsolete with the "Washday Miracle" that was Tide.
Synthetic detergent Tide hit a market share of more than 31% by 1952.
"It's a washday miracle!" proclaimed one of the early and easily the most memorable of the print ads for Tide as the marketing plan rolled national in 1947.
By 1947, the first year of the national launch, most of the budget went to long-form print ads in newspapers and magazines, with radio via P&G soap operas. Tide also started a tactic it continues to this day- putting samples of Tide in new washing machines.
With sales faltering, the Tide team began seeking answers from moms, tailoring ads and the product to appeal to them. In doing so, Tide committed an original sin for positioning purists, in 1967 launching Tide XK. This enzyme-packed "New Generation" flanker ultimately would consume the whole brand, until concerns about the safety of workers handling enzymes forced P&G to scrap the product.
At 22%, Tide was near its lowest market share since the late 1940s.
Ads began to shift from claim-laden to slice-of-life vignettes with kids getting dirty. Tide also had its first and perhaps only celebrity endorser-"The Dick Van Dyke Show" star Rose Marie.
"TV, and lots of it," said Jim Van Cleave, a brand manager from the era, who went on to become VP-media. Virtually all of it was spent on network and spot TV-the spot aimed at fortifying the brand's weaker markets in such regions as the Southeast.
Whether Tide could ever be anything but a powder was a matter of debate as liquid detergents such as Unilever's Wisk took share in the 1970s. But when it finally developed a liquid as effective as powder Tide, P&G took the step of launching Liquid Tide. Ironically, a year after publication of the anti-line-extension book "Positioning," Tide embarked on the first of a series of mostly successful flankers.
By 1985, share hovered at 23% after topping out around 28% in 1975.
Along with the product lineup, the message started getting complex with separate campaigns for Tide powder and liquid. It also introduced the innovative self-draining cap.
Still lots of TV, though print got a relatively robust 15% of the media budget. P&G also began developing the Tide Racing Team to help boost the brand's share in its relatively weak Southeast market before Nascar became a hot, national phenomenon.
Line extensions continue-with a vengeance-and with considerable success.Tide is heaping on not only flankers, but co-branded ones. Following Tide with a Touch of Downy in 2004, P&G launched Tide with Febreze in conjunction with Bounce and Downy products launched simultaneously. Other 2005 launches include Tide Coldwater and Tide2Go stain remover.
Tide is at an all-time high, with market share of more than 40%.
$60 million (estimate)
Coldwater gets direct-response ads and product demos. The Tide2Go stain remover pen effort is more creative; Part of the launch included placement on "The Apprentice: Martha Stewart."
TV still accounts for 95% of measured media. But both TV and non-measured marketing have changed dramatically. Cable is the biggest chunk-about a third of spending, but Tide uses cinema, branded entertainment, PR, viral marketing and direct response.
Source: Procter & Gamble Co.., TNS Media Intelligence, Ad Age archives