The back story has come to light from one of the world’s largest advertisers on its commercial campaign in last February’s Super Bowl – forcing last-minute changes to prevent what could have been a major fail!

Proctor & Gamble’s Super Bowl “It’s a Tide Ad” campaign was shot featuring a Tide pod in multiple scenes of the commercial storyline – awesome branding to be sure, except that for weeks before the campaign was to roll on big game night the “Tide Pod Challenge” took over social media. And not in a good way. For those who missed it, this challenge spread quickly and simply dared teens to eat a Tide pod that is meant for washing clothes. Granted, they look like tasty candy but they are far from it.

Memes circulated of daring to engage the “Tide Pod challenge,” or poking fun at those who did; others just ran with it as a joke.

These incidents were creating negative news coverage and put the brand into imminent peril.

How did Proctor & Gamble and its agency Saatchi & Saatchi react and regroup in a way that would not draw more attention to the trending and disturbing “Tide Pod Challenge” but still promote the brand during the Big Game?

First, they created a video in January with Rob Gronkowski, tight end for the New England Patriots and Dunkin’ Donuts spokesperson, saying, “No, no, no, no, no, no, no!” when asked the question, “Hey Gronk, is eating Tide Pods ever a good idea?”

Secondly, Proctor & Gamble ended up replacing Tide Pods in every single vignette where the pods were shown with bottles of Tide liquid detergent. A scramble, but a brilliant move to support the brand instead of potentially diminishing it.

Lessons for Business Owners

As a business owner, there will be times when you are faced with deciding about last minute adjustments to your marketing efforts. When you are in the final 5% of completing a project, ask yourself this question:

Is the reason for this change critical to success?

Is moving ahead with the current status going to create a failure?

If you answered YES to those questions, then make the change. If you answered NO or DON’T KNOW, then save your changes for the next marketing effort. I’m a believer that the last 5% of the marketing development can kill a project by constant changes and moving deadlines. Only make changes in that last 5% if it is project critical. In this instance, P&G chose wisely.