'It's a Tide Ad' Returned to the NFL Last Night. Was It a Clean Hit?

Sequels are never easy, even if this one showed promise

Procter & Gamble and Saatchi & Saatchi surprised everyone last night by bringing back "It's a Tide Ad" eight months after the campaign's ingenious, award-winning takeover of the Super Bowl. 

This time, two spots were integrated into Fox's Thursday Night Football broadcast. Both were designed to fool viewers into thinking they were still watching the Eagles-Giants game and not a commercial—then, halfway through, it became clear they were Tide ads. 

The game announcers, Joe Buck and Troy Aikman, were roped into the shenanigans, as were players from both teams. 

See the spots here: 

Tide | Mic'd Up - A Thursday Night Tide Ad
Tide | Clean Call - A Thursday Night Tide Ad

So, did it work? Yes and no. 

If you scroll through the #TideAd hashtag on Twitter, you'll see the reaction from most viewers in the moment was positive. People seemed to find the misdirect amusing. The idea is certainly more interesting than your average commercial. And if P&G had to go back to the well—and who can blame them for doing so?—at least they went in a somewhat different direction (though it did recall Tide's "Bradshaw Stain" work from the 2017 Super Bowl). 

On the other hand, the sequel can't help but feel underwhelming—perhaps inevitably, given the true one-off brilliance of the original "It's a Tide Ad" series. Conceptually and executionally, the original was flat-out superb and a very difficult act to follow. 

In the end, the new ads, while being engaging enough with their element of surprise, didn't do nearly enough with that engagement. The execution is overly cartoony, and the jokes and performances are flat pretty much across the board. (Buck and Aikman can't act, and it was David Harbour's tweet praising the original ads that was by far the most-liked element of this campaign last night.) 

When Buck responds with a befuddled "Uhhhh, OK?" at the end of the "Clean Call" spot, the viewer is likely to feel much the same way. 

Sequels are never easy, and extending an all-time classic campaign is a pretty thankless task. But even if P&G and Saatchi were hard-pressed to top the original idea, they could have helped themselves with a cleaner execution. 

Check out Buck and Aikman's social posts below.

Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd is editor in chief of the Clio Awards.