The Tide has turned

I went on a strange and arguably unnecessary journey last week.

I went on a strange and arguably unnecessary journey last week.

All I wanted was Tide detergent in a big box with no whistles and buzzers. It turned out that I was searching for the last passenger pigeon or principled politician because this animal no longer exists in its original form and size that I could find here in Red Deer.

Tide has beaten me up with a sales pitch ever since I was lucky enough to watch my first television set and the message was received over the decades.

I really have no idea whether Tide is any better than the competition, but I grew accustomed to a standard issue product to suit my needs.

The new world of Tide involves a highly segmented array of choices from liquid Tide to cold water Tide to compact Tide which claims to pack a big punch in a little box.

Tide also comes laced with bleach or softener as additional options for people who actually care about laundry to a disturbingly obsessive level.

The real problem is that Tide has created an incredibly long list of optional choices which have effectively replaced a long and successful singular choice which apparently no longer exists. They have taken away the best and least complicated option and replaced it with non-options for guys like me.

Tide wants us to make ethical choices when it comes to their products when all I really want is a clean pair of jeans. Cold water Tide clearly uses less energy but I rarely think about Al Gore and his pet polar bears when it comes to laundry.

Detergent is just one of many highly uncomplicated issues that we have over engineered in the past several years.

We are pushed into a giant multiple choice exam for everything under the sun and, unfortunately, “d- The K.I.S.S. Principle” is not the answer.

Are we really ahead of the game with an epidemic of irrelevant consumer choices? The correct answer to this ‘yes and no only’ question is “no”. There is no ‘maybe’, ‘sometimes’,” I don’t know’’, new and improved “I don’t know”,” I don’t know” with whitener, or extra strength “I don’t know”.

Too many inconsequential consumer choices force their way into our lives because it’s a bloodbath out there when it comes to marketing a product in a world with a short attention span of sound bytes and style over substance.

Tide would probably rather market and package the same product that captured my consumer heart on a black and white TV back when fins on cars were king, but that would likely be corporate suicide.

Few if any companies with consumer products showcase their products as something that is exactly the same product as the one in the 1963 company catalogue.

Longevity and dedication to one consumer philosophy would be a perilous business path in today’s business models, even with products that need no improvement.

I really yearn for the good old days from two months ago when I actually found my last giant box of normal Tide.

Yup-those were great times.

Jim Sutherland is a freelance writer living in Red Deer. He can be reached at

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