Celine Dion and tons of kissing mark a return to normalcy in Extra's global campaign

In a campaign from Energy BBDO, the Mars Wrigley gum brand suggests the world is ready to re-emerge—but first it needs fresh breath

Published On
May 03, 2021

Editor's Pick

When was the last time you bought a pack of gum?

As people stayed home, took fewer trips to the grocery store and severely cut back on travel such as flights, plenty haven’t purchased chewing gum during the pandemic. If no one else can smell your breath, do you even think about buying it?

Now, as more people are vaccinated and resuming a bit of life from the before times, one gum marketer is embracing the hope for being out in the world again.

Mars Wrigley’s Extra is out with a global campaign called “For When It’s Time” that showcases the bleakness of COVID-19, from a tumbleweed of masks to a man hoarding toilet paper—backed by Celine Dion's “It's All Coming Back to Me Now.” The spot then breaks into a spirited sprint of life outside after a radio announcer—on WGUM, naturally—gives the go-ahead for a return to normalcy.

“We all just need a dose of feeling good,” says Rankin Carroll, Mars Wrigley’s global chief brand and content officer. “As people re-emerge and get back to themselves, we think we can help them, encourage them, give them something to stimulate that feeling.”

Chewing gum is heavily reliant on impulse purchases at places such as convenience stores, grocery stores and airports. Mars Wrigley and other gum makers have suffered during the pandemic, with double-digit sales declines becoming the norm in the category. In some markets, industry sales declined more than 50% during months of full lockdown, says Carroll.

Trident maker Mondelēz International in late April announced it is evaluating its roughly $550 million gum business in developed markets. That strategic review, which may even lead to a sale of the business, comes after Mondelēz’s gum and candy sales plunged 17.6% in 2020 and 16.4% in the first quarter of 2021.

Mars Wrigley tracked behavior throughout the pandemic and knew people weren’t going out as much, whether to shop, travel, work or meet up with a significant other.

“If people don’t think of you, people aren’t buying you,” says Carroll.

In the ad, which includes an extended cut and shorter versions for TV, people race out of their homes, back to the office and into the arms of those they haven’t seen in months.

One man glances at another across an apartment hallway, wondering whether it is safe to go outside. A mom working from home rejoices as the images of her coworkers disappear from yet another online meeting on her laptop screen. She races to her car in her Zoom-ready outfit of work attire on the top, pajamas on the bottom. A woman, practically buried under pizza boxes, jolts up at the chance to meet up with her boyfriend. First, she snags a stick of gum. 

Other merry moments are peppered throughout the spot, which was shot in Santiago, Chile and directed by Nick Ball out of MJZ.

"The goal is to inspire the world to dust off the cobwebs, freshen up and get back out there once it is safe to do so," adds Pedro Pérez, co-chief creative officer, Energy BBDO.

Dozens of people appear in the spot. The actors who get close to each other—very close—lived in the same households, according to the brand.

"There was something super special that occurred in the process of crafting this—a big outpouring of emotion from everyone involved," adds Josh Gross, co-chief creative officer, Energy BBDO. "After a difficult year, this film was cathartic, allowing us to express our feelings and excitement for what we’re hoping the future will hold."

The campaign begins airing in the UK and the U.S., and is set to roll out to other markets in Europe. The bulk of the media buy will be against shorter lengths.

It follows work from Extra that is often relationship-driven, including last year's tale of two sisters.

The idea for the new campaign came up in late 2020, when vaccinations were on the horizon and there was a bit of a hopefulness, says Carroll. “We thought this feels natural, this feels like something consumers need, people need to feel this right now.”