ImageI was going to write about how a tanking economy represents a golden branding opportunity. How short-sighted marketers tighten their budgets during a downturn, leaving the field a little looser, a little less competitive, a little more hospitable to your brand. And it is true; the conventional wisdom that says now is exactly the time to spend more on marketing, promotion and publicity is sound. But I've already seen a half dozen "how to support your brand during a recession" stories and quite frankly, I'd rather talk about gum.

Yes, chewing gum. Or, more precisely, chewing gum packaging. Specifically, the copy gracing the interior of the new Wrigley's Extra Classic Bubble Slim Pack.

I've been chewing Extra Bubble for at least a decade, maybe as far back as 1984, when it was introduced in the U.S. as Wrigley's first sugar-free gum. I've stuck with it through two flavor "enhancements" (that I know of), the first of which rendered the taste not remotely "classic" (so strange [and pungent] was it that whenever I chewed a piece within sniffing range, my sister felt it necessary to ask, with great disdain, "Are you chewing that gum again?"). I've stuck with it through my husband's concerns that some of the additives therein are none too healthy (I admit to periods of chain-chewing). And I've stuck with it through the May '08 advent of the two-years-in-the-making (per the Wrigley's website) Slim Pack. The "sleek, 15-stick envelope package" may well be more "durable and portable for today's consumers," and the tab closure is satisfying to fasten, but what's made me an even more ardent fan of the Classic Bubble iteration of the Extra brand is the cheeky copy printed on the inside flap of said envelope package.

Because they know I'm what you'd call a bubble-gum person and they've called out and made a connection to my bubble-gum-pink heart.
I can't tell you how delighted I was when I un-tabbed my first envelope and spotted the slogan "15 sticks of unadulterated, mind numbing, euphoria-inducing, earthshattering, long-lasting, and humble enjoyment" on the inside flap. Granted, I was confused as to why they chose to represent "mind numbing" as two words and "earthshattering" as one while hyphenating "euphoria-inducing" and "long-lasting," but that didn't diminish the pleasant surprise of finding that description.

Subsequent Slim Packs yielded:

  • "Warning: chewing Extra after breakfast will turn you into a morning person."
  • "Doesn't bubble gum remind you of your childhood? It reminds us of your childhood. You were a cute kid." [I like to think they meant to emphasize the "us" in "It reminds us of your childhood"].
  • "Try explaining the taste of bubble gum to someone who has never tasted it."
And my favorite: "Made with real bubbles."

The merits of the copy aside, its mere existence (on what could have been an overlooked piece of real estate, no less) represents an ingenious strategy — I'm buying more gum than ever (six Slim Packs at a time, even) to make sure I've seen all the slogans. Who'd have thought I'd develop a collect-'em-all mentality about chewing-gum packaging? Well, Wrigley's did. After all, by the time you spot that chewy copy, you're in the bag — you've already purchased the product. In other words, these morsels aren't meant to make you buy the product; they're meant to make you keep buying the product. I've even considered picking up the Cinnamon or Supermint (presumably better able to leap tall buildings in a single bound than either the Peppermint or Spearmint) just to see what their insides have to say.

ImageYou'd expect this kind of branding acumen from a company that's been selling gum since 1893 and today enjoys global sales of $5.4 billion. But there's something else; I feel the Extra Classic Bubble agency of record — and by extension, Wrigley's — understands me. No, they probably wouldn't have guessed I'd expend 787 words on the copy on the inner flap of their Slim Pack. But I do think they knew I'd view what I found there as a treat, a special message, something (forgive me) extra I'd truly appreciate. Because they know I'm what you'd call a bubble-gum person, a veritable pillar of the bubble-gum community, and they've called out and made a connection to my bubble-gum-pink heart.

Ultimately, I chew Extra Classic Bubble for the taste, not the copy. But the copy has sent my brand loyalty into overdrive. None of "my" other brands have come close to turning me into the agent of viral marketing you see here today.

Has packaging copy ever turned you into an unpaid shill? Likely not, but I'm certain you, too, are a brand loyalist. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it about a product that's won your undying devotion, ideally one you've sold others on, and we'll send you an Extra Classic Bubble Slim Pack for your trouble.