What began as a hoax about a toddler’s temptation to eat Tide Laundry Detergent Pods has snowballed into an all-out phenomenon. Across the internet, teens are biting into the brightly colored capsules, chewing them like candy, and even frying them up. The “Tide Pod Challenge” triggered 40 reported exposures to laundry detergent pods by 13- to 19-year-olds in the first 11 days of 2018 alone, prompting Tide to take to social media and respond to the viral trend.

The brand chose Twitter, where it has 189,000 followers, to release a satirical yet serious public service announcement. In the video, New England Patriots Tight End Rob Gronkowski uses an age-appropriate tone to describe the true and only purpose of Tide Pods: laundry. Separately, the detergent brand addressed parents, telling them how to teach their kids about laundry safety through social media partnerships with mom bloggers.

Tide’s rapid, digital-savvy response comes as no surprise, as it was the only brand to achieve Genius status in L2’s most recent¬†Digital IQ Index: Home Care. While other CPG brands have been slow to transition to digital compared with other sectors, Tide stacked up a best-in-class scenario in its efforts around search, social media, digital marketing, and e-tailer sophistication, while rolling out a subscription service based around the replenishment of, ironically, Tide Pods.

From cinnamon-swallowing contests to milk chugging challenges,¬†there’s no telling what will go viral on the internet. However, while brands can’t control these often bizarre phenomena, they can control how they react to them. Tide’s swift response to the Tide Pod Challenge demonstrates how important it is for brands to pay attention to digital trends, no matter how random they might be.

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