Sowing seeds of nostalgia
“We’ve almost missed an entire generation,” said Paul Cherrie, Topps managing director. Bazooka disappeared from the airwaves and virtually all other forms of communication over the last decade. Although unaided brand awareness among adults of the red-white-and-blue packaged gum is 84% based on nostalgic memories of their youth, today’s six- to 12-year-olds -- who make up the biggest group of bubble-gum purchasers -- are far less aware of it.
Topps wants to change that and cash in on the fast-growing gum category with a kid-targeted TV campaign this July from Duval Guillame, New York, on networks including Nickelodeon as well as a push with Internet and PR initiatives.
The Bazooka relaunch is Topps’ No. 1 priority over the next two years, Mr. Cherrie said, because it is the “strongest and most under-leveraged brand franchise we have,” and because gum is currently outperforming many of the other segments Topps plays in within the non-chocolate confectionary category.
Gum bubble expanding
Gum sales grew 3.4% to $1 billion in food, drug and mass outlets excluding Wal-Mart for the 52 weeks ended Feb. 19, according to Information Resources, Inc. Bazooka sales in those outlets grew 2% to $4 million, but Mr. Cherrie said a more accurate figure for total sales of the brand, sold mostly in convenience stores and mom and pops, is more like $20 million and he expects the relaunch to at least double that over the next two years.
In the past, Bazooka has split its small marketing budget among adults and kids, but now, he said, Topps is exclusively targeting kids -- where $4 million goes much further.
Topps will also innovate on the brand for the first time in years. Although it has in the past offered some miscellaneous fruit flavors, this summer it will add new forms, including twist-wrap gum (like its competitor, Double Bubble) as well as gumballs and gum-filled pops. New flavors (watermelon and cotton candy) will also be introduced.
“Bazooka is a gem,” Mr. Cherrie said. “It just needs to be dusted off.”