How Tide Could Help Marriage Equality Opponents Clean Up Their Act

The saga of Kim Davis—the Kentucky county clerk who’s dominated the news in recent weeks due to her refusal to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples—has confirmed that official, public discrimination is a horrible circumstance that gay, lesbian, and bisexual couples must continue to fear. To what extent Davis’ defiance of the judiciary will undermine or galvanize the “religious liberty” movement in this country remains to be seen, but this much is clear: Same-sex couples may have won the legal right to be treated equally, but in the real world, encountering “you’re not welcome here” is still entirely possible.

It’s that possibility that’s satirized wonderfully in a new proposed ad for Tide’s “To-Go” stain-cleaning sticks.* Directed by Mark Nicklesburg, the commercial, which Tide’s manufactuer Procter & Gamble has not yet accepted, shows a gay male couple approaching a church for their wedding, only to be stopped by an imperious, uptight-looking woman. “How offensive!” she huffs. “I won’t let you blemish the sanctity of marriage!” As the men begin to protest, the true source of the woman’s offense is revealed—and with the help of Tide, handily dispatched.

While LGBTQ-supportive advertising is old hat these days, the pointedness of this spot is striking—were they to use the ad, Procter & Gamble would risk offending the anti-gay religious liberty crowd. Of course, this or something like it wouldn’t be too much of a surprise: The company went on the record in support of marriage equality in 2014 and has actively supported queer employees for more than two decades. 

*Correction, Sept. 15, 2015: This post originally misattributed the ad to Procter & Gamble’s Tide brand. The ad was made “on spec” by director Mark Nickelsburg and has not yet been accepted or released by P&G. The post has been edited to reflect this information.