To find a new message for Tide, P&G tried a twist on the traditional focus group. Instead of gathering women in a room, Tide managers and strategists from Saatchi & Saatchi spent two weeks in the field talking to women in Kansas City, Mo., and Charlotte, N.C. They followed women as they shopped and ran errands and sat in on bull sessions “to hear them dish about their lives,” says Wanda Pogue, a Saatchi brand strategist. To help other P&G and Saatchi officials experience the research, videos of the women were used to create scripts performed by actresses in a one-hour play titled Pieces of Her.
The P&G team concluded that it needed more than Marketing 101 ads, with side-by-side stain comparisons and a huge shot of a Tide bottle to support the stable of brand-line extensions it has launched in the past 18 months. The researchers tapped into how emotional women could be about clothing. For example, there was the joy a plus-size, divorced woman described when she got a whistle from her boyfriend while wearing her “foolproof”(sexiest) outfit.
Out of this process flowed lighter ads. One TV commercial depicts a pregnant woman spilling ice cream on the last shirt that fits. Another shows a mother in white pants rushing from her office to day care and then with her daughter to a park. The message: Tide lets women focus on the important things. The new slogan says little about cleaning. Instead, “Tide knows fabric best” is meant to encompass the broader range of Tide products on the shelf today. “One of our rallying cries was to get out of the laundry basket and into her life,” says Kevin Burke, P&G’s fabric care marketing director.
For P&G, this is a leap forward. Maybe others will follow. I’m hoping car dealers and furniture warehouses will start getting emotional about their tent sales.