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In its latest ad campaign, Lifesavers Co. wants consumers of gum to have it both ways.

Contrasting images of fire and ice -- illustrating the taste of Ice Breakers' Hot Cinnamon and Cool Mint flavors -- are devices used in the new ads to break through the clutter of the category now being fired up by "intense" gums.

"[Intense gums] are the growth brands," said Bill Champion, senior VP-group management director at Foote, Cone & Belding, New York, who said a highly creative approach was needed to help Lifesavers get noticed in a category that has attracted high spending levels.

"Some competitive brands have $24 million to $25 million in annual support," said Mr. Champion, who wouldn't discuss outlays on the new Lifesavers campaign, which breaks March 1 on national TV and cable.


The company spent $6 million on Ice Breakers advertising for the first nine months of 1998, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

The new spot, set in a coffee shop, uses fanciful special effects to show the impact of Ice Breakers. A young man first pops a piece of Cool Mint, then he's shown hurtling through a vortex of ice and frozen in place. A woman on an adjoining stool tries the cinnamon gum and feels the fiery flip slide of the experience.

"We are trying to add a whole new dimension [with the advertising]," said Mr. Champion.

He added that he'd eventually like to see the commercial run in theaters.

The spot breaks from last year's campaign that showed quirky couples in quick cuts that covered a number of brand attributes, such as its flavor crystals.

Mr. Champion said the focus now is "more single-mindedly on mouth freshening," thus the tagline: "Intense mouth freshening gum."

Lifesavers' Ice Breakers was one of the first U.S. gums to adopt the moniker "ice," but the intense-flavor positioning was first staked out by category leader Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co.'s Winterfresh line.


Since then, players have flooded both the intense-gum and mint category, from Warner-Lambert Co.'s Dentyne Ice to Wrigley's test of Eclipse and recent rollout of Everest, billed as a "powerful mint gum." Everest is from Wrigley's Amurol division.

Even so, Ice Breakers appears to be holding its own. According to Information Resources Inc., Ice Breakers sales were $55.3 million for the 52 weeks ended

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