I was touched and somewhat tearful when I watched a new video spot for Extra gum in which we see a time lapse narrative of a father and daughter who bond over his miniature creations made from gum wrappers. During each phase of their relationship, the wrappers are an aluminum foil tie that binds culminating in a dramatic punch line that delivers the message that it’s the little, personal things that matter in life. After clicking through the spot, I neither ran to the kitchen to grab a piece of gum not did I add Wrigley’s to my shopping list. I thought about sharing the video link with some friends who, like me, have kids in college, but given the emotions involved in seeing your birds leave the nest, thought better of it.
And while I might applaud the folks at Energy BBDO who are deserving of some modest kudos for this meritorious achievement, I have to pose the mundane yet relevant question: how does this help sell gum? Overlooking the advice from four out of five dentists, the few benefits of gum include some level of relaxation, curbing hunger, minimizing the after-Jones of ceasing smoking and, in the case of some athletes, preventing you from biting your lip or tongue in high-stress moments. After 21 years of fatherhood, I admit I have shared a pack or two of gum with my daughter, but I don’t see it as a key driver in our relationship.
In his report, “How to Tell Memorable Marketing Stories,” my colleague Richard Fouts points to the SIR method of creating compelling stories—situation, impact, resolution. For the father and daughter bound by gum wrappers, I certainly understand the situation, but impact and resolution seem elusive. And, if we are to add an addition element—action—then I would say this lovely 30 seconds of video art tugs the heartstrings but does little to encourage sales uplift. I hear the purists out there say, “Wait, this is branding!” To those, I ask, explain the brand resonance connection between sugarless gum and the spiritual joy of parenthood? Seems to be a stretch beyond even our most fertile imaginations.
I am a huge believer in the practice of storytelling. I even subscribe to the transmedia concept of creating multiple stories along the same theme that work individually for various channels but connect to deliver a harmonious message. I also believe well-chiseled storytelling is a major driver for commerce with measurable results if you are able to cleverly but directly explain the benefits of a given product or service. From the Axe commercial where the hero loses the girl to an astronaut to spot where a guy gives a damsel in distress a ride in his Subaru, the SIR method is executed to near perfection. And while I appreciate art in any form, and awards may look great in the sleek lobby of an upscale ad firm, without impact and resolution your story does little to drive your bottom line.