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Tide's Super Bowl Stain

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Laundry stains are part of life--no matter who you are. Tide’s “Bradshaw Stain” Super Bowl campaign was rooted in a universal consumer insight… the bigger the stage, the bigger the stain. Ever spilled coffee on yourself before a major presentation? Or, noticed a nice red splotch on your shirt halfway through a hot date? Yes, of course, all eyes are on that stain, judging you harshly. And the longer it’s there, the bigger it feels.  

Now imagine this happening while you’re appearing in front of 110 million viewers. That’s what Tide wanted to make happen to Terry Bradshaw, a fan favourite who could take it in good humour. Media execution had a huge role to play in pulling it off. And naturally, in the end, Tide had to solve Terry’s problem because it’s great at removing stains. 


Could agency Hearts & Science create an illusion of reality to mesh seamlessly with live game commentary? It would require several stages. This kind of viewer involvement was unexplored media territory, though, and it needed approval from Bradshaw, Fox network and the NFL. Fortunately, everyone said yes.  

The concept is that Terry is ending his live “pre-broadcast” spot plugging the upcoming halftime show, when he discovers an epic barbecue stain on his shirt. It would place Terry’s stain there while he was supposedly snacking off-camera. Everything had to remain “real” and unbranded to build viewer speculation. Co-commentator Curt Menefee out the stain, and then the promo piece ends and it jumps back into the Super Bowl game. Hopefully, the audience would share speculation—would the stain still be there at halftime? If the agency could get fans guessing on social media, just seven minutes later, the 75-second spot would reveal the answer. 


To work, both the live setup and the commercial had to look like real life. This meant filming multiple versions in advance using a disguised stadium—nobody knew yet which teams would make it into the Super Bowl, and team stadium colours had to be correct. Hopefully, viewers would experience Terry’s stain as a “real-life, real-time” blunder, believable with his everyday-guy personality.  

Hearts & Science worked with Fox’s team and off-camera placed the stain onto Terry’s shirt during the live broadcast promoting the upcoming halftime show. Twitter lit up. Fans were burning to see if Terry’s stain would still be there during halftime.  

Even Tide’s competitor, Clorox, briefly tried to swipe the stain’s social media limelight. Seven minutes later, Tide’s commercial airs. In it, Terry freaks out and takes a frantic car ride to eliminate the stain. Viewers finally get it. They’ve just experienced one of the Super Bowl’s most memorable ads.  


It reached over 100 million people during the game and 6.35 million went and watched the commercial online. Between the stain chatter and its commercial reveal, there were 40K+ organic tweets and 104K+ engagements on Tide’s Twitter and FB.  

People loved the ad as well, voting it #5 in the USA Today Ad Meter. It was covered by 635+ media outlets, garnering 4.8 billion+ impressions. The spot helped launch Tide’s newest PODS innovation.  

Following the game, Tide had the biggest week of PODS ever, with a record high 12 Share. Post Super Bowl, Tide PODS grew 22% in sales, and Tide PODS+ Downy was the fastest PODS extension launch ever. Not only was the launch of success – Tide reached it record-high household penetration. 

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Brand Owner:
Procter & Gamble
United States
February - February 2017
Hearts & Science
Media Channel:
  • FMAs shortlisted

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