Tide and Saatchi & Saatchi – Agency/Client Relationship

Relationships between advertising agencies and their clients differ from case to case, but one core aspect that is key to a successful relationship relates to Sims’ (2004) belief that clients want “an agency that understands [their] complex company and is willing to…put [their] company at the centre of the agency’s priorities.”

Saatchi & Saatchi is responsible for several brand accounts under Procter & Gamble (P&G). While P&G and Saatchi now have a great agency-client relationship, O’Leary (2003) reveals that it was not always a success story. Over 15 years ago, the outlook for Saatchi retaining the Tide account (which had been among the ad agency’s clients since 1961 (Parekh & Bruell, 2013)) was looking grim. O’Leary (2003) explains that it was through a change of outlook and strategy that Saatchi bounced back from the brink of demise and is now among P&G’s prized ad agencies. Kevin Roberts, CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide, said that his team “knew our future lay in doing great work for our existing clients” (O’Leary, 2003), not being distracted by menial clients.

One such example of great work, and as a result of a slowly strengthening relationship, was the Tide Knows Fabrics Best campaign in 2007 (Kotler & Armstrong, n.d.). This campaign saw P&G executives and the Saatchi team gather together for intense research into Tide’s customers (Kotler & Armstrong, n.d.). A shared vision of positioning Tide as a brand that understood its customers was the key to the success of the campaign. The partners took their newfound knowledge of their customers and created a series of commercials tapping into the “empathy gap,” which resulted in a household penetration of 37% in 2007 from 33.6% in 2005 (Barwise & Meehan, 2012).

Parekh & Bruell (2013) state that the agency and client relationship between Saatchi and Tide “has evolved into a partnership with ambitious goals” through their large scale and innovative work, such as their Super Bowl campaigns.

In 2013, Saatchi produced a Super Bowl ad titled “Miracle Stain,” which Campaign Brief (2013) describes as “one of the creative highlights of Super Bowl XLVII” and was “rated the second best ad of the weekend’s big game in USA Today’s prestigious Ad Meter poll” (Saatchi & Saatchi, 2013). They also produced a ‘digital roadblock’ Super Bowl twitter campaign, which drew a lot of attention in Times Square (Outfront Media USA, 2013). Both campaigns were successes in their own right, but there’s no doubt that through Saatchi’s strengths in research, creativity, innovation and concepts of entertainment, the ad agency has carried the Tide name through to a new platform of brand recognition, and thus overtime has strengthened the once grave relationship with P&G.

In essence, it was in Saatchi & Saatchi’s ability to change their business strategy and “grow with [their] best clients” (O’Leary, 2003) that saved their relationship with P&G, as well as producing award winning creative work that positioned P&G’s brands as more than ‘just brands’, as seen specifically through their work with Tide.


Barwise, P., & Meehan, S. (2012, September 9). Marketing Case Studies: Tide – Bridging the Empathy Gap and Selling the Top Brass (Part 2). Retrieved March 18, 2015 from CommPRO: http://www.commpro.biz/marketing/international-marketing/marketing-case-studies-tide-from-technical-breakthrough-to-long-term-money-machine-part-2/

Campaign Brief. (2013, February 7). Saatchi New York’s ‘Miracle Stain’ spot for Tide one of the creative highlights of Super Bowl XLVII. Retrieved March 18, 2015 from Campaign Brief: http://www.campaignbrief.com/2013/02/saatchi-new-yorks-miracle-stai.html

Kotler, P., & Armstrong, G. (n.d.). Principles of Marketing. Retrieved March 18, 2015 from Queen’s University: http://engineering.queensu.ca/Outreach/EngineeringStudents/files/Pearson-MarketingText-Ch1.pdf

O’Leary, N. (2003, January 13). Global Agency of the Year 2002: Saatchi & Saatchi – Old Dogs, New Tricks. Retrieved March 18, 2015 from Adweek: http://www.adweek.com/news/global-agency-year-2002-saatchi-saatchi-old-dogs-new-tricks-60897

Outfront Media USA. (2013, September 10). Digital Roadblock- TIDE Twitter Campaign [Video Clip]. Retrieved March 18, 2015 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SDrSEjPmcvE

Parekh, R., & Bruell, A. (2013, April 29). Seven Strong Unions Earn Honorable Mention in Ad Age’s Agency-Client Marriages Contest. Retrieved March 18, 2015 from Advertising Age: http://adage.com/article/agency-news/7-unions-honored-client-agency-marriage-contest/241096/

Saatchi & Saatchi. (2013, February 7). Tide Takes #2 Spot in Super Bowl Ad Meter. Retrieved March 18, 2015 from Saatchi & Saatchi: http://saatchi.com/en-us/news/tide_takes_no_2_spot_in_super_bowl_ad_meter/

Sims, M. (2004). Agency Account Handling. England: John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


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