25 Jan'18

P&G fights Internet fade of eating detergent pods

Online videos and memes of teenagers eating Tide detergent pods is causing brand turmoil for P&G.


As the washing tablets contain ethanol and hydrogen peroxide eating the tablets could cause serious harm.


Speaking to Fox Business, a P&G spokesperson stated ‘To address the deep concerns, we have taken a number of actions’.


One of these actions include a digital safety video urging young people not to eat the pods- see video below. The video features the footballer star, Rob Gronkowski stating ‘What the heck is going on people? Use Tide pods for washing, not eating’.





In addition, the company are working with social media networks for this harmful content to be quickly removed from the internet – see video below.


Official organisations have also contributed to raising awareness of the serious health dangers for eating Tide pods. US Consumer Product Safety Commission tweeted an image with the strapline ‘A meme should not become a family tragedy. Don’t eat poison’.


The ‘Tide Pod Challenge’ craze first emerged in 2012.  Some are of the opinion that P&G did not do enough in the past to deter young people from eating the pods. However, according to Wall Street Journal, P&G were ‘worried that speaking out would make matters worse by drawing attention to it’.


P&G are not the only brand to have experienced their product being used in a harmful way and it going viral. Some other examples:


  • ‘The Cinnamon Challenge’ – swallowing a tablespoon of ground cinnamon in 60 seconds without drinking fluids. In a report from Paediatrics Perspectives they state that it is these videos raise ‘concerns of chocking, aspiration and pulmonary damage’.


  • ‘The Deodorant Challenge’ that involves spraying a can of deodorant on your skin for a prolonged period. The Reader’s Digest quotes a dermatologist who stated ‘these burns can harm their skin and cause dark spots, scars and patches that may last for the rest of their lives. Adding to this, the dermatologist stated that it could also increase the chance of cancer.


  • Teenagers rubbing the Bert’s Bees lip palm on their eyelids reporting that it gives them a tingling sensation adding to feeling drunk or high. Time quoted a doctor that explained the peppermint oil in the lip balm was what caused ‘the burning sensation’.


Brands have little power to stop such videos being posted and going viral, but their responsibility is to educate and minimise the impact.