Think back to grade school and that dreaded moment you pulled out a stick of gum in class. Before you could even peel back the wrapper, you were greeted by twenty open-palmed hands asking, “can I have a piece?” Extra has aspired to be that brand not only passed beneath gum-riddled desks, but among consumers around the world. After discovering gum was declining at unprecedented rates, as well as the Extra brand, the company was inspired to restore category growth by driving Extra back to health. It’s no surprise that when Extra Gum gave a little extra, they got a little extra by winning an Effie for their most recent campaign. Their inspiration, says Chris Balach, former senior brand manager for Extra Gum & Mints, comes from a dual business and creative perspective.
Extra Gum’s 2013 ad to kick-start the campaign “Give Extra, Get Extra” took an unconventional turn and touched the hearts of millions.
From a business perspective, a secure brand positioning was essential. Balach says, “The past of Extra was a little schizophrenic– it was the brand that could stand for anything and over the course of its 30 year history, it stood for just about everything that you could stand for in the gum category… and the consequence of all those varied brand positionings was [that] the brand really had no brand meaning.” Extra found that when measuring ideal brand rating, they saw a strong correlation between market share and ideal brand rating. Extra was an anomaly in that data point in that it had a very low, almost unideal brand rating. From that point, there was a huge opportunity to define what the Extra brand stood for.
From a creative perspective, it was important to define what archetype the brand would line up against. To discover what archetype fit best with the brand, Extra looked at the 12 common archetypes in literature. “The stories that archetypes tell are universally true and broadly accepted. It took rigorous research to understand consumers’ motivations when they chew gum, and— when they chew Extra gum in particular— what they’re motivated by.” Balach soon came to a threefold conclusion about the insights of gum chewers: 1. Consumers value simple things in life and small gestures can have a very big impact on their outlook. 2. The notion of togetherness and that things are better together than they are independently plays a significant role in consumer’s lives 3. Consumers believe that when you stop and observe the world around us, there is a lot of beauty and happiness that exists. “When we looked at all the archetypes that exist in the world,” Balach says, “we found that stories of the innocent archetype most commonly tied back to these insights that we established.” The final product was knit together by the efforts of the team, choices in advertising, and pursuit of marketing effectiveness.
“The team played a very big role. Given the state of the category and size of the Extra branch here at Wrigley, this was an all hands on deck mission. The category was hemorrhaging and our core brands were not very healthy,” Balach says. With the severity of the category health, it would take a village to raise the campaign. In addition to the usual brand and agency team members, stakeholders in senior management such as the president, CMO, and head of research, were deeply involved and provided visibility high up through the organization.
With much of business success dependent on advertising, Interviewer Alan Hart states, “There is very little communicated in words… the last ten seconds gives a narrative voice-over and then a quick visual of the product. With so much riding on the line, that’s a pretty big leap to focus on a purely emotional message.” However, Balach assures that the more emotion they were building into the spots, the more impactful that they were becoming. “We were, in real time, realizing the benefits and the power that a beautiful picture can have; a beautiful soundtrack can have.” When looking at an advertisement, a piece of copy is evaluated by its ability to be noticed, remembered, and understood by consumers. “We found that power of the visual storytelling was easy to get noticed, the impact of the punchline of the story was very easily remembered, and there was simplicity in the story that helped the viewer understand what was happening throughout the course of the spot.” When Extra turned a new leaf and broke conventionality by launching their campaign with emotion and meaning, it was discovered that the brand did well with being noticed, remembered, and understood even in the absence of dialogue.
Extra found its definition of marketing effectiveness by not simply growing the brand but growing the category. “It’s never easy to grow a business but there are shortcuts you can take… like selling bigger packs… or developing a more premium brand to drive basket rings per unit.” Extra, on the other hand, found that the easy choice isn’t always the best one. One of the hardest things to do in terms of penetration is to get more people to chew more gum, but that is absolutely what Extra set out to do. “I was very happy to see that we did [grow the category and brand] instantaneously and that we are recognized for those accomplishments with an Effie.”
As word of advice for brands hoping to crawl out of decline, Balach emphasizes the importance of broad and universal penetration as opposed to companies that chase a certain niche. Extra’s mission was to get as many people as possible to purchase and consume their product- an approach that skipped the phase in the life cycle of a business where it says “I don’t necessarily want everyone, I just want this one subset of people.” When a business calls for these broad universal human truths and are seeking to tell broadly appealing stories, they uncover opportunity. “Niched marketing and hyper targeted marketing does have its application, but our intention [with Extra] is to attract the masses and we have absolutely proven that you can do that very successfully.”
Extra Gum’s Effie-winning campaign “Give Extra, Get Extra” strikes again in 2015 with a sequel to its wildly popular ad, “Origami.”