What do you think about when someone says the word “gum”? Do you think of a fresh stick, making your breath smell like arctic bubble bath? Or perhaps you think of a grungy yellow blob stuck to the bottom of your brand new shoes? Either way, it is likely that the last thing being thought about is something that will make you cry your sentimental heart out. Unless those shoes really meant a lot to you. But now with this commercial Extra Gum has put out there, millions of people will be thinking about heartfelt moments shared with loved ones whenever gum is mentioned in a sentence.
The William Wrigley Jr. Company, the producers of Extra Gum, is a member of the food processing industry. Founded by William Wrigley Jr. in Chicago of 1891, the company is now a subsidiary of Mars, Incorporated. The subsidiary employs over 16,000 people and generates over five billion dollars in revenue a year, primarily from gum sales. But gum wasn’t the first thing that the company sold back when it was founded. William Wrigley Jr. initially founded the company to start selling soap and baking powder. It was only in 1892 that he began packaging chewing gum with each can of baking powder. Eventually the gum that was packaged with the baking soda became more popular than the baking soda itself, so Wrigley reoriented the company to process and distribute this chewing gum instead. Today the company is one of the world’s largest gum producers and is the host to many well known brands, including Juicy Fruit, Big Red, Orbit, and of course, Extra Gum (William Wrigley Jr. Company, 2015)
In 2013, the Wrigley Company contracted Energy BBDO to create an ad for Extra Gum. The Wrigley Company wanted something that invoked feelings of home and warmth, of the good ol’ days upon which the company was founded upon. So together the two companies created the campaign in question: “Give extra, get extra.” BBDO (Barton, Batton, Durstine & Osborn) is an international ad agency network founded in 1891, the same year as the William Wrigley Jr. Company. Headquartered in New York City, the agency holds 289 offices in 80 countries. For those who have watched Mad Men, the Sterling Cooper group of the TV series is supposedly inspired by BBDO and the BBDO agency is often noted in the show’s script as a competitor to the protagonist’s own agency (BBDO, 2015).
Energy BBDO created the Extra Gum “Origami” commercial to suit these needs. The commercial depicts a father giving his daughter gum wrapper origami cranes as they get older. At the end of the commercial, while the family is sending the daughter to college, the father accidentally drops a box full of these origami cranes that he had folded for her.
This nostalgia smothered commercial would later have a sequel called “The Story of Sarah & Juan,” the subject of all this.
So what did the William Wrigley Jr. Company and Energy BBDO hope to accomplish with this new ad of theirs? Aside from the obvious of increased sales revenue, the two companies hoped to create a feeling similar to that of the “Origami” commercial and use this feeling as brand recognition for the audience. The ad campaign itself didn’t appear to have an established timeframe, other than to throw the ad out in the world and bolster the theme of #giveextragetextra .
BBDO’s only used avenues for deploying this ad in particular were via television, YouTube, Facebook yet it has attracted the attention of millions. The campaign itself, #giveextragetextra The commercial’s YouTube page, published on October 7th of this year, gathered over seven and million views and over 78 million views and 1.1 million shares on Facebook in its first week (Cobo, 2015).
And why is this new commercial of theirs garnering so much attention? Well if you haven’t watched it yourself, then I recommend you do but be warned! It’s a real tear jerker.
For those who haven’t seen it yet, the “Story of Sarah & Juan” seems less like a gum commercial and more like some sappy teen romance flick you may have been dragged out to see. Set to the tune of a slow love song, you first see Sarah and Juan locking eyes outside of their high school, where inside they share their first moment with each other between a stick of Extra Gum. Spearmint flavor, if you must know. From here on we see the couple sharing the heartwarming light of youth together, often with a stick of gum in hand. However not every moment is happy for the couple. Before Sarah & Juan eventually leave their high school together, off to bigger things, they are seen arguing about some predicament that they are faced with. Juan sits down with his head only to be comforted by Sarah, with a stick of Extra Gum. Spearmint flavored. The audience then witnesses the disconnect between the couple, Sarah off to a new place and gum-equipped Juan at home. This emotionally taxing process of happy and sad eventually leads the audience to the reuniting of Sarah and Juan in a studio. In here it is revealed that all this time, the warm and loving Juan we have come to know has been saving these gum wrappers for years, doodling the important moments he shared with Sarah on them. Sarah sees these framed masterpieces of the studio walls, which she follows to the last one: a marriage proposal. Shocked and bewildered Sarah turns around to see her beloved Juan on his knees, with a stick of gum. Just kidding, he has a ring.
BBDO and the director do a wonderful job in creating a sense of nostalgia for Sarah & Juan, the brand, and the audience as well all without shoving the product in the viewer’s face. Throughout this whole commercial, the tear drenched audience forgets the commercial is even about gum, only to be reminded right at the tear jerking end. For the commercial’s couple, Extra gum brings back warm feelings of happy moments, and we, the audience, feel it too. BBDO constructed a marvelous sequel for their initial “Origami” hit.
Did the commercial make you want to buy a pack of Extra gum? Maybe not, but the commercial has been a marvelous success. Aside from the millions of views and shares on YouTube and Facebook alone, there have been countless reactions videos, tweets, and media articles detailing the ad. They all seem to share the tearful theme to amongst each other, which can be seen with the campaign’s tagline: #GiveExtraGetExtra.
Nevermind that grin.
The lasting nostalgic feeling that most viewers experience with this ad come largely from Energy BBDO’s choice of a soundtrack. Lots of thought went into finding the right tone to set the theme, eventually settling on “Can’t Help Falling in Love” covered by Hailey Reinhardt, an American Idol alumnus. Daniel Kuypers, the head of Energy BBDO’s music team, made it clear on what the team wanted. “My instructions were, ‘make me cry’” (Love it or hate it, 2015). Fairly successful if you consider that self proclaimed social video expert Unruly specifies just that. In Unruly’s review in Marketing Magazine, the author details the ad with no discrimination, making note that “the ad will either turn you into a sentimental puddle of goo or make your eyes roll out of your head and into the next county” (Love it or hate it, 2015).
Sure, the ad can make people cry but was it successful? In short, yes very much. Factors to identify the success of this short campaign would be to analyze Wrigley’s Extra Gum revenue of this year, but because their statements for this quarter are not yet available, we must look at the general success of establishing brand recognition. By piggybacking the success of the initial “Origami” ad, “The Story of Sarah & Juan” changed the gum wrapper into a new symbol. This is evidenced by the countless tweets, views, shares, and just general reactions that have sparked over the web in the past month. “For the second time in two years the brand has managed to turn the gum wrapper, modern life’s most disposable pieces of rubbish, into a sentimental souvenir” (Love it or hate it, 2015).
BBDO. (n.d.). Retrieved November 14, 2015, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BBDO
BondsVesper. (2015, October 11). Let’s React – Extra Gum ‘The Story of Sara & Juan’ [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PRhsMvfPE1Y
Cobo, L. (2015, October 21). Make Me Cry: The Story Behind Wrigley Gum & Haley Reinhart’s
Unforgettable ‘Sarah & Juan’ Ad. Retrieved November 14, 2015, from http://www.billboard.com/articles/videos/popular/6737465/wrigley-gum-haley-reinhart-cant-help-falling-in-love
Extra Gum. (2013, August 26). Extra – Origami [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dxZu-6jewL4
Extra Gum. (2015, October 7). Extra Gum: The Story of Sarah & Juan [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XLpDiIVX0Wo
Love it or hate it, Extra Gum’s ‘The Story of Sarah & Juan’ is definitely having a moment. (2015, October 16). Retrieved November 14, 2015, from http://www.marketingmagazine.co.uk/article/1368588/love-hate-it-extra-gums-the-story-sarah-juan-definitely-having-moment
William Wrigley Jr. Company. (n.d.). Retrieved November 14, 2015, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wrigley_Company