As most marketers know, ethics matter, to consumers and the general public. Nonetheless, unethical practices abound. But, sometimes there is gray line. Thus, we now look at whether recent Tide packaging innovations are a clever or unethical use of marketing.


About Procter & Gamble

Procter & Gamble (P&G) is a long-time household products and personal care dynamo. For instance, its Web site notes:

“Our brands are trusted in millions of living rooms, kitchens, laundry rooms, and bathrooms—and have been passed down from generation to generation. Over the course of 181 years, they’ve challenged convention, led innovation, and helped shape culture.”

In recent years, P&G has faced pressure from private brands and other competitors. Thus, it’s strategy focuses on creating and sustaining clever differential advantages.

The following image shows some of leading brands. The full list may be found by clicking the image.

Clever or Unethical Use of Marketing


New Tide Packaging: A Clever or Unethical Use of Marketing

Among P&G’s largest product lines is laundry detergent. It is the global leader. With brands such as Tide, Ariel, Cheer, Era, and Gain. As the dedicated Tide Web site states:

“You’ll find all our Tide laundry detergent products, from liquid to powder, on Find the best variety of detergents for your needs, whether you’re looking for powder, liquid, Tide PODS® or other cleaning detergent products. Get the information you need from dosing to consumer detergent reviews. To keep clothes looking their best, detergent from Tide has you covered.”

To keep ahead of the pack, P&G regularly innovates with Tide. However, two recent packaging innovations have generated some criticism.

First, there was the social media-driven Tide pod challenge. The challenge was neither neither concevied nor promoted by P&G. Lindsey Bever reports for the Washington Post:

“Videos circulating on social media show kids biting rightly colored liquid laundry detergent packets. Or cooking them in frying pans, then chewing them, and spewing the soap from their mouths. Experts say the game, dubbed the ‘Tide pod challenge,’ is dangerous.”

More recently, there was an uproar about the new packaging shown below. Patty Odell reports for Chief Marketer that:

“Tide unveiled new eco-friendly packaging. But people are asking, Tide, is that you? Social media lit up with users comparing the new design, called the Tide Eco-Box, to boxed wine. The box sits on a pull-out stand and has a twist-to-open pour along with a measuring cup. Inside, the liquid is sealed in a bag. In addition to the eco-friendly design of the box — it uses 60 percent less plastic than shipping an equivalent 150 ounce bottle of Tide since it doesn’t require additional layers of cardboard boxing or bubble wrap — P&G saves money on shipping costs.”

Clever or Unethical Use of Marketing
Tide’s new boxed detergent from Procter & Gamble

14 Replies to “Clever or Unethical Use of Marketing”

  1. It is always fascinating to go down an aisle with laundry detergent, dish-washing and other cleaning products to see the number of products and extensions from each respective brand. Tide is definitely one that always sticks out to many, with its recognizable brand name and logo, and bright colors splashed across all of its products. I personally really love the new eco-friendly design of the box. I think that it still allows the product to be stored and used effectively, while reducing plastic use and shipping costs. For Tide, this is both a great money-saving initiative, while also supporting more eco-friendly business processes. The Tide-Pod Challenge was an unfortunate scandal for them, even though they were not supporting or running it at all. As P & G states on their site, they are in so many homes and a part of so many families, so aligning ethically and morally is even more important for the success of their brand. I would love for their other brands to continue this eco-friendly movement with alternatives to plastic containers, which so many of their products use.

  2. Tide’s new design for the box is very interesting, since they have gotten a lot of controversy from the Tide Pod challenge it seems like they are seeking controversy with the new design. Yes, it uses less plastic overall but I can’t help but notice the similarity to a box of Wine. The only reason why they changed the design was to save money on shipping costs. There is a lot of good things that comes with the new product packaging, but they could at least change the box to make it look less like a wine box.

  3. I feel like Tide is trying to go in the right direction with the eco-friendly design. However, after the recent controversy with their product they should have either held onto the release date or changed the design. I understand that the costs may have outweighed the benefits but, for the overall image of the brand another look should have been done.

  4. I think people are looking a little bit too into the new design. The tide pod challenge was something kids came up with thinking it was cool, it had nothing to do with the company and the company did not condone these actions. Now it just seems like consumers are trying to pick out everything they can about Tide. Why would it matter if it looks like boxed wine, it is not and its using less plastic. People complain about saving the environment but then when companies do something about it they still complain.

  5. I think the eco-friendly design is smart. Even though P&G probably does it more so to save on shipping costs, anything eco-friendly is very important right now! I couldn’t help but laugh at the comparison to boxed wine, because yes, it does in fact look like boxed wine. In the long run, does that really matter though? That it looks like cheap wine? I think people should focus more on the idea that so much less plastic is being used in this product. As well as this, the Tide Pod Challenge clearly wasn’t the company’s fault, as they never endorsed it or even created it. Kids are just dumb sometimes and do dumb things. Remember the cinnamon challenge? Anyways, I feel like Tide is moving in the right direction, and saving themselves so money while they’re at it!

  6. I think Tide was in the right direction with this design, they are trying to make it more eco-friendly, and there is nothing wrong with saving on shipping costs. Some people try to criticize everything they can and i don’t think it matters if it looks like a wine box. The main focus of this should be their new eco-friendly design, which many other companies can learn from!

  7. I agree with the notion of moving into a more eco friendly route with packaging and shipping, and in this sense they are doing the right thing. As mentioned in the article, yes it does look very similar to boxed wine and the ease or releasing the detergent could pose as a risk, especially to families of young children who have this set up in their laundry room. I think with those scandals of the Tide Pod challenges, although they were not designed or supported by the company, should make them extra cautious with their marketing and promotional tactics as to not start up any new dilemmas. They should try and reinvent the packaging so it does not look as similar to boxed wine, while staying environmentally friendly. It also needs to be recognized they cannot prevent everything which will arise from some young kids creating scandals, but just have to have something to watch out for and prevent.

  8. In my opinion, Tide did not promote the dangerous challenge of eating Tide Pod that went viral. It is challenging how the social media community can take something so far and cause problems. Also, the Tide Eco-Box is a good idea to save the planet and clever strategy to save cost for the company. Though it’s somehow similar to wine box, I believe it won’t cause trouble if keep out of reach of children. However, having the company image at risk, Tide need to take consumers’ critics and concerns and fix the situation.

  9. For a long time, companies have been afraid of controversies as they thing they lead to a dip in the sales. However, the case might be a little different for tide. They are one of the biggest companies in the detergent industry and have not only different types of products but are also selling them under different names. The tide pod challenge was just as ridiculous as any other challenge. It was hazardous and tide did not specifically make these for injection. However, through the challenge, more people got to know about the pods and it might have won them some customers too. The case with the wine box design for the new product seems the same. Seems like they want to stir up the market and get reactions and get known by more people in the market.

  10. in my opinion, i think both packagings could be harmful to the children. For the Tide pod, children could misunderstand it as food and eat them. For the eco-friendly packaging, it looks like a water or juice tap which could also be harmful to children. Therefore, i think Tide should go with its usual packaging but with a better safety lock to prevent the contact with children.

  11. I think people are always very quick to criticize change because they don’t like it but I wish people would focus on the bigger picture here. I think what Tide is doing with their new packaging to help the environment is commendable. I have a feeling that once people start getting used to the new packaging there will be fewer and fewer objections to the design and more discussion around how other companies can also do their part to reduce their carbon footprint on Earth.

  12. New tide package has benefits in transportation. It is easier to transfer and store. As everything unusual it will certainly attract the shoppers. We love to try the usual product in its new form. Probably as the new package is more eco-friendly it will attract new customers, who concern about the environment. So, over all, it is a great and beneficial shift.

  13. I’m not sure what the big deal is about the so-called “wine box” packaging. We have been buying Excelsior soap in this format for quite a few years now. I don’t think Tide can do much about the Tide POD challenges. Stupid will always be stupid.

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