Tide unleashes its secret weapon against the Tide Pod Challenge: Gronk

Rob Gronkowski has a serious message for anyone considering taking the challenge: "What the heck is going on, people?"

CINCINNATI: Tide has enlisted one of the National Football League’s biggest stars—literally—to dissuade teens from participating in the viral Tide Pod Challenge.

The ill-advised social media trend involves people filming themselves eating Tide laundry detergent pods and challenging others to do the same.

The brand posted a video on Twitter and Facebook on Friday evening featuring New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski telling teens to avoid the social media craze. The brand wanted "to deliver a safety message that relates to young people who are participating in this conversation on social media," said Petra Renck, spokesperson for Tide parent company Procter & Gamble, via email.

Gronkowski’s message in the video was characteristically blunt. "What the heck is going on, people? Use Tide pods for washing, not eating," he said. "Do not eat."

MMK+, a partnership between Marina Maher Communications and sister agencies Ketchum, Porter Novelli, and FleishmanHillard, is assisting Tide with this campaign.

The video has been retweeted more than 50,000 times and liked more than 100,000 times on Twitter. Gronkowski also tweeted the video from his own account, garnering 9,000 retweets and 29,000 likes. The video has received 44,000 views on Facebook.

"We hope everyone takes this seriously: laundry pacs must only be used for their intended purpose," said Renck.

Tide has been working with social media networks to "remove harmful content that is not consistent with their policies," Renck added.

"We are also working with the American Cleaning Institute to inform and provide assets to post-secondary education institutions to educate their students to only use the product to clean clothes," she said.

The public safety push builds on the brand’s multi-year effort to reduce accidental detergent exposure and to ensure liquid laundry packets are used safely. Tide introduced the brightly colored plastic laundry detergent pods in 2012 and started a child safety education campaign that same year.

Renck said Tide has co-led the development of industry standards, added child resistant closures to the bags and tubs, and created bittering substances to the outer film. The brand has also worked with NGO partners to educate parents and caregivers on safe use and storage.

In April 2016, the brand created a video with a child safety message.

"These measures are working and have led to a significant reduction in accidental exposure rates, which we’re committed to driving down even further through ongoing work with industry partners and education efforts with organizations like Safe Kids Worldwide," said Renck.

Editor’s note: This story was updated on January 16, 2018 with information about MMK+.

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