FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Friday, January 21, 2005

Tide Coldwater Challenge: A New Twist on Internet Marketing

Marketing soaps and detergents is about as old as American capitalism itself. And as the first true heavy-duty laundry detergent, Tide has been a ground-breaking product ever since its introduction in 1946. But Proctor & Gamble has yet again managed to put a new spin on product introduction with its new variety of Tide, Tide Coldwater. They're using the Internet to promote it... but doing so with a difference.

P&G is linking Tide Coldwater to an energy-saving initiative -- as the product is designed to clean clothes better in cold water (hence the name!) -- and a campaign to help low-income Americans with their energy bills. Through the Tide Coldwater website, consumers are invited to sign up to receive a free sample of the product... and by adding their ZIP Code, they are added to an interactive map of the US that shows how many people have similarly responded.

Those who have signed up can similarly recruit their friends, thereby helping to spread the word about Tide Coldwater through social networking. At the site itself explains:

The ColdWater Challenge Map utilizes a new system that facilitates web-based sign-ups and social networking. This interactive map of the United States illustrates the diffusion of the ColdWater Challenge by tracking the spread of forwarded emails, highlighting the "six degrees of separation" between consumers who have accepted the challenge.

By recording each person that participates, and who he or she has invited or emailed, the system is able to calculate and display the actual impact of every individual. By allowing people to track their own impact on a cause, the ColdWater Challenge Map helps prove that one person can make a difference.

Currently, the map shows that the Challenge has spread pretty thoroughly throughout the eastern half of the US and along the West Coast, but not so much in the West.

Whether or not the ColdWater Challenge can really make a difference in energy conservation, or in selling the product, remains to be seen. Depending on its success, the campaign could take Internet marketing to a new level, or just be dismissed as another geeky gimmick. At any rate, P&G deserves an "A for effort" in using the Web for marketing in a new and creative way.

Source: Future Now