Tide is launching an ambitious environmentally driven campaign to get people to wash clothes in cold water, enlisting rapper Ice-T and retired pro wrestler “Stone Cold” Steve Austin behind an unusual big-budget ad effort to change habits rather than hawk specific products.
The Procter & Gamble Co. brand joins countless others in green marketing efforts as Earth Day approaches April 22. But Tide is taking the unusual step of making an environmental pitch a centerpiece of U.S. brand advertising, not just this year but for the rest of the decade. Leading the creative is Saatchi & Saatchi, part of the multi-agency Woven Collaborative that handles P&G North American laundry.
Key messages of the #TurntoCold campaign are that all Tide detergents clean better in cold water than the leading unnamed bargain brand in hot water, and that people can save on average $100 a year by switching to cold. It backs the Ambition 2030 program P&G launched earlier this month to have 75% of U.S. laundry loads washed in cold water by 2030, up from the current 40% to 45%. By far the most negative environmental impact in the entire chain from manufacturing through home use of laundry detergents comes from heating water, according to P&G research.
If U.S. consumers hit P&G’s cold-water target, it would be the equivalent of removing a million cars from the road and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by a cumulative 27 metric tons over a decade, says Aga Orlik, senior VP of North American Laundry Care.
“It’s our hope that a campaign like #TurnToCold paints a clear picture in the mind of our consumers that Tide is not just a superior product, but also better for people and planet,” she says. “If consumers see a load of laundry done with Tide as a load of good, then that’s a win for us.”
As part of the effort, Tide also has toyed with the sacrosanct—its iconic logo. The brand has resisted all suggestions to play around with the orange bullseye over the past 75 years, Molski says, but has made an exception with the blue logo, adding a snowflake and a cold-water dial setting for #TurnToCold.
P&G originally launched a Tide Coldwater product line in 2005, but since then has been incorporating technology to create enzymes and other ingredients that perform well in cold water across all products. “Now we’re comfortable saying you’re going to get this superior Tide clean no matter what,” says spokesman Henry Molski.
To get the point across, Saatchi enlisted stars whose names could be linked to cold puns, led by Ice-T and Austin, to lead a supporting cast that also includes Vanilla Ice, Mr. T (Lawrence Tureaud) and Annie Murphy of “Schitt’s Creek” fame. Ice-T and Austin star as “Cold Callers,” teaming up to randomly call people to convince them of the benefits of cold-water washing with Tide. Murphy, in an ad breaking next month, says “unsubscribe” as soon as the gets her “cold call.” But she changes her mind when she hears about the $100 savings, saying she’ll “do it for the environment.”
For a Canadian ad, the Cold Callers call former National Hockey League star Mark Messier, who notes that he gets their point, because Canadians already do more cold-water loads. National habits vary widely, Molski notes. Germany, while very environmentally conscious, still tends to wash clothes in very hot water. In much of Europe, the default setting on washers is also for higher temperatures, but people tend to opt for the coldest settings, he says.
To change Americans’ habits, “our idea was to make it fun and entertaining,” says Saatchi Executive Creative Director Paul Bichler. “A lot of people refer to themselves with cold names, and it just came together to talk to people using cold calls.”
Ideally, the cold calling idea makes it into pop culture, says Saatchi Chief Creative Officer Daniel Lobaton. “We didn’t want it to feel preachy,” he says. “Going the entertainment route unlocked that for us, because we had these celebrities in the shoes of everyone else receiving this message, asking the same questions anyone might have."