The Comment of The Day: Yes, It’s About Tide Commercials, But Read It Anyway

Ethics Alarms reader Lianne Best weighs in on the Tide (with Acti-lift!) ads, with a valuable observation with far broader ethics significance. She aptly describes exactly how norms of appropriate conduct become corrupted and coarsened (or sometimes enlightened and improved!) over time:

“I hope I’m not too late to the Tide with Acti-Lift! party, but for those who say these ads are “just marketing” and don’t have any real impact … the first time I saw each of these ads, I was horrified. With each subsequent viewing I was less and less offended, until they became normal. Participating in unethical behavior starts with it becoming normal, so these seemingly innocuous commercials are actually pushing the snowball down the slippery slope. Those with influence, whoever they may be, must be cautious with its use.”

Comment of the Day: The Tide Mini-skirt Commercial

Ethics Alarms has been getting some excellently written and reasoned comments lately, and it is time to institute a feature I have enjoyed on other blogs, and that is especially appropriate for this one: “The Comment of the Day.”

There won’t be one every day, of course, and the criteria is variable. In general, a Comment of the Day is one that I feel is especially well-stated rather than one I necessarily agree with—like the first entry, in fact. As I have stated elsewhere on the site, I don’t find the Tide mini-skirt commercial unethical, and would not have featured it on Ethics Alarms had readers not brought it into the discussion. I think it is culturally wrong-headed; I think it is obnoxious; I think the choice of song is in poor taste. Still, if Proctor and Gamble thinks it can sell more Tide by attaching its pitch to the assertion that fathers are boobs to question overtly sexual fashion choices by teenagers, and that mothers who encourage underage daughters (Yes, yes, we don’t know that the “daughter” isn’t 25, but the actress sure is doing her best giggly teen impression. We don’t know the “father” isn’t really the next door neighbor, either.) to wear skirts the size of dinner napkins sure to expose the Britney Zone every time the daughter sits down are being responsible parents, I wish them luck. I buy the detergent in our house, by the way; the commercial is sexist by its assumptions.

Here is the comment… Continue reading

Tide Commercial Reflections–with Acti-Lift!

This post isn’t going to have any additional ethical musings on the Tide commercials themselves, for I am sick to death of them, and almost as sick of arguing about them. What I have been thinking about instead is what to glean from the fact that an ethics critique of a 30 second laundry soap commercial has become the most viewed post on Ethics Alarms after fourteen months and about 1,100 posts, and has generated more debate than all but a few other issues.

Not that I much mind becoming the apparent ethics authority on Tide (with Acti-Lift!).  It’s a small niche, but at least it’s a niche. If you Google almost anything about the original commercial—“green shirt” and Tide, for example—Ethics Alarms is the first non-Tide site that gets listed. Still, with carefully considered ( and occasionally proofed) posts on politics, immigration, global warming, education, sex, law enforcement competing with it for attention, my ethics review of a TV commercial has attracted far more interest than any one of them.

Why? My thoughts: Continue reading

When TV’s Ethics Matter, and When They Don’t

As one who has argued that certain TV commercials, notably the infamous “green shirt” Tide commercial, the Twix commercial  and Direct TV’s disturbing (but often funny) series showing football fans hurting rival team supporters, I know I’m asking for trouble by declaring, as I officially do here, that for compliance firm Global Ethics to criticize TV shows like “The Office” and “30 Rock” for supposed workplace ethics violations is absurd. But it is absurd. And criticizing the commercials in question is not.

Hear me out. Continue reading

A Commercial for Liars: Tide..with Acti-lift!

Yes, Procter and Gamble, makers of Tide laundry detergent, thinks lying is cute, and that Americans will run out and buy a product advertised as useful for assisting lies.

And who knows? Maybe they’re right. We certainly wouldn’t expect a corporation or an ad agency to see anything wrong with lying, since it is business as usual for them. They probably don’t even realize such messages are corrupting.

The new TV ad for Tide and its new “Acti-Lift” secret ingredient (It’s called “Closet Raid”; you can see it here…) shows the heart-warming saga of a teenage girl who trustingly asks her mom whether she borrowed a favorite green blouse. Continue reading