The Onion has been publishing satirical news articles on the web since 1996 (starting with a print edition in 1988). With the rise of social media, Onion stories are shared on Facebook where they are frequently mistaken for real articles. A great site called ‘literallyunbelievable.org‘ has collected hundreds of entertaining responses from people who just didn’t get the joke.
On May 29, The Onion published an article attributed to Fred Hammond, Director of Digital Video and Social Media Ad Integration at Tide Detergent. In the article titled ‘Hey, Everybody! This Cool New Tide Detergent Video Is Blowing Up All Over The Internet!‘ Fred excitedly wrote:
“I know most of you have probably watched this Tide detergent clip dozens of times already because it went viral so quickly, but if you haven’t, then trust me on this one, you have got to see it. It’s one of those super popular Internet clips that you can’t stop watching over and over and that you immediately want to forward to every one of your email contacts. That’s what I did.”
While Fred Hammond doesn’t actually exist, the folks at Tide and their agency Digitas have responded to the article by producing a real-life version of the ‘super-awesome’ viral video. The video features everything mentioned in the article; the cool indie-rock song, the cute talking animals, and while they don’t have the real ‘Bret Michaels’, they do have a similar bandanna-wearing relic of the 80s.
While Tide’s response video may not quite be “the hottest thing on the web” as Fred described, or even sell a lot of laundry detergent, it does show that the social media team is listening and has the freedom to respond in a creative way.