Tide’s ‘Doctor Strange’ ads connect MCU to past marketing

    • Procter & Gamble’s Tide is running a tie-in with Marvel Studio’s upcoming “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” that crosses over into its own brand universe, per details shared with Marketing Dive.
    • In a teaser shared on social media last week, actor David Harbour reprises his role from the detergent marketer’s “It’s a Tide Ad” Super Bowl commercials. As he looks to remove a stubborn jelly stain from a shirt, one of the portals from “Doctor Strange” appears in the background and snatches his Tide Pods away before he can get to washing, with Harbour remarking the sudden disappearance is “strange.”
    • The post serves as a runway for a new 60-second spot where Benedict Wong, who plays Sorcerer Supreme Wong in the film, goes on a frantic chase to catch and clean Doctor Strange’s sentient Cloak of Levitation before the titular hero returns to his home base at the Sanctum Sanctorum. The ad developed between Saatchi & Saatchi, Marvel Studios and Bullitt shows Tide trying to port over the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s (MCU) focus on interconnected storytelling to its own brand-building initiatives.

    Tide is weaving together a multipart narrative to support its tie-in with the latest MCU installment, which hits theaters May 6. Bullitt, the creative studio on the push, was co-founded by the Russo brothers, who directed several MCU films.

    The Tide effort is loaded with nods not only to the long-running superhero franchise, but also past P&G marketing work, specifically a well-regarded Super Bowl campaign that was also made with Saatchi & Saatchi. A number of spots that ran during Super Bowl LII in 2018 faked viewers out with different scenarios before revealing they were all promoting the laundry detergent. Harbour, the star of the creative, has also appeared in the MCU, linking the two brands together.

    Tide clearly feels confident that consumers still carry warm feelings toward “It’s a Tide Ad” and will appreciate the reference. The longer spot featuring Wong, which was directed by Anthony Leonardi III and executed with the help of visual-effects firm Framestore, has additional Easter eggs related to the MCU.

    It starts off with Wong dirtying Doctor Strange’s Cloak of Levitation with a tuna melt sandwich, which he previously expressed a craving for in 2018’s “Avengers: Infinity War.” The magic-powered hero then chases the cloak through the streets of New York City before catching the flying garment at a food truck, which displays a phone number viewers can call to hear a pre-recorded message from the character. Since the Cloak is so dirty, Wong forgoes liquid detergent and instead creates a portal to steal some Tide Pods from Harbour, bringing the concept full circle.

    Brand tie-ins with movie franchises are common, but marketers often try and insert themselves into the longer MCU timeline to fill in gaps between different entries and cater to detail-oriented fans who closely pick apart every aspect of the franchise. Hyundai last year ran a campaign that depicted what happened to the villain Loki in between his disappearance during “Avengers: Endgame” and a follow-up streaming series bearing his name on Disney+ (the ad involved a getaway in a Hyundai).


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