Monday, December 2, 2013

Dirty (Laundry) Tactics: Plain Style in Advertising “Blogs”

“Tough but True Laundry Tactics” is a plain style article that remains transparent despite its attempts to hide its motives. The author of this article seems to know a lot about doing laundry in other countries, use many concrete examples of how people in other countries or situations do (or do not) clean their clothes. Before reading the article, I thought it was about how to remove certain types of stains or how to combine loads. The article actually informs the readers about how people in other countries/circumstances do (or don’t do) laundry and then proceeds to advertise their product. The blog style of the article seems to establish authority on the topic of laundry and spike interest in Tide products as a blog style advertisement.
The article establishes authority on the topic in several ways. With a high readability score and an average grade level of 9, this piece is easy to read even though it delivers some interesting information on laundry practices in other countries. Evident in this piece is the lower levels of formality. The article is written in 2nd person, and the author uses several contractions. Talking about how astronauts and laundry, the author says, “Hopefully, they don’t make their moms do the washing!” ( There is a cliché right away in the first paragraph when the author writes, “If you’re among the fortunate few who can simply toss a load into a washer, count yourself lucky” ( The use of parallelism as a rhetorical device is found in the introduction as an attention grabber- “How do astronauts keep their clothing clean in space? Where do hikers on the Appalachian Trail wash their sweaty gear? How about sailors? ” ( Parallelism is used in the article to help strengthen the connection the author makes between astronauts and college freshmen when she says, “They take the same approach as many college freshmen: They wear their clothing as long as they can bear it, then pack up their dirty laundry and bring it home with them” ( These elements combine to make the article engaging and hold the reader’s interest to the end where it offers a shameless plug for the use of Tide products.
As an informational article about laundry, the writer spikes interest in Tide products by presenting the website as a blog and presenting interesting information about laundry in other countries. The page where the article is published looks like it is a blog but when you look at the URL, you notice it is actual a Tide webpage. They want people to purchase their product, buy Tide to Go Stain Erasers or Tide Travel Sink Packets-the product names are hyperlinks to a Tide website (one that no longer looks like a blog) where you can purchase the tide to go erasers. Tide is sneaky about the fact that the page is controlled by their company. The site itself is titled Fabric Care Solutions. Other than the URL, there are no hints until the very bottom of the page where their logo is displayed.
The article is aimed at people accustom to doing their laundry in a washing machine who will be traveling to other countries such as Africa and India as are mentioned in the article. It is also aimed at people who are planning a backpacking excursion in another country or planning on staying in hostels rather than at expensive hotels. The article offers an alternative to doing laundry the traditionally American way when it isn’t possible by using Tide products because the end goal is for the reader to purchase Tide products. The concluding statement of the article reads “if you’ll be traveling to a locale where you suspect that washing machines are in short supply, do yourself a favor: Pack Tide® to Go Stain Erasers. That way you can tackle any noticeable spills and smudges—and mask the fact that you’re wearing not-so-fresh clothes.”
Some may say that Tide is not intending people to find this site and by interested in purchasing Tide products just from reading it. This cannot be true, however, as the title itself is misleading. “Tough but True Laundry Tactics” can be assumed to be an article about different ways to handle a tough clothing job such as one with stains. The article is actually about how people in other countries do their laundry. The article also lures in the unsuspecting person looking for tricks to doing laundry with the ambiguous title. Tide could claim that the article was formatted as a blog to reach a wider audience and to simply educate people on how others in other countries do laundry, with the end goal being education and a side bonus if someone happened to be traveling in the near future, followed the hyperlink, and bought their product. This could be true except from a business perspective, Tide is a company out to make money, not to help people out of the goodness of their hearts and hiring someone to manage and write articles for a blog website under their name costs money. Unless the project had potential to make Tide a lot of money, they would not waste their resources on it.
Despite the hidden aspect of Tide running the site, the use of plain language helps the goal of the article become transparent by the end of the article. The article initially established credibility by acting like a blog written by a regular person without an agenda just looking to share some easy tips on laundry and promoting Tide. After discovering that the site was run by Tide and the reader realizes the article is a persuasive advertisement disguised as a blog, the reader may feel tricked and not want to buy Tide products. On the other hand, the reader may not care that a blog format was used because these days everyone has and reads blogs. Despite being written in plain language, the article was still able to hide the motive inside itself. This suggests that similar texts, though believed to be plain and direct, still can have hidden meanings and hidden agendas. It may seem that the goal is for the reader to think they want to purchase these Tide products and for them to think they came about that conclusion on their own, uninfluenced by an advertisement but rather guided by the blog article into making their own decisions. This brings up a question about the advertising methods being implemented today. How effective are blog style articles such as these? Are they effective because they lead the consumer to their own conclusion? The idea is similar to the old adage “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink”.  

Works Cited
“Tough but True Laundry Tactics”. Tide.  Proctor&Gamble, 2013. Web. 16 October 2013. <>

No comments:

Post a Comment