This article first appeared on Marketing Magazine
If you were asked to name the greatest love stories of all time, the answers would likely be pretty familiar.
Add a liberal splash of ‘Romeo & Juliet’, a sprinkle of Jack and Kate from ‘Titanic’ with a hearty dash of Ross and Rachel from ‘Friends’ – that’s the modern image of pop culture love, right? Think again. Thanks to a new chewing gum ad capturing the hearts of social media denizens everywhere, we may have to adjust our definition of millennial romance.
You read that right: a chewing gum ad.
It’s been two years since Extra Gum and agency BBDO put out ‘’, a hugely popular spot which transmuted chewing gum wrappers into a touching ode to father-daughter relationships.
Connecting Extra Dad and Extra Daughter through a series of origami swans, the spot was watched over 2m times and likely prompted more than a couple overdue calls home. It was peak ‘Dadvertising’.
Extra’s latest, ‘The Story of Sarah & Juan’, is a variation on that theme, giving the brand’s own spin on the tale of two high school sweethearts.
After their eyes meet across a crowded room, Sarah and Juan’s first real interaction comes when, you guessed it, she offers him a stick of Extra.
We see their relationship progress in a charming rom-com montage, underscored by a cover of Elvis Presley’s ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love’ and the lovers’ periodic offering of chewing gum and coy smiles.
Traversing the years, we see Sarah and Juan’s love tested as they graduate from high school, move away to university and eventually enter a long distance relationship.
Things are looking strained for our young lovers: the distance is getting to be too much and you can tell years have passed because Sarah’s wearing reading glasses all of a sudden. If you’ve seen the weepy romance ‘’, this will all be very familiar.
In a final act twist, Juan invites Sarah to a private gallery where a series of Extra chewing gum wrappers adorn the walls. On each of these wrappers is a cutesy sketch of everything they’ve done together. Their gum-based affection reaffirmed, Sarah and Juan fall into each other’s arms and everyone lives happily ever after.
Depending on your predilections, you’re either a sentimental puddle of goo right now or your eyes have rolled out of your head and into the next county. But love it or hate it, ‘The Story of Sarah & Juan’ is having a moment.
Besides its massive sharing popularity, particularly across Facebook Video, Extra’s spot has spread so far thanks to some rather effusive praise from the online media.
The ad will either turn you into a sentimental puddle of goo or make your eyes roll out of your head and into the next county
BuzzFeed championed the ad in an even-handed piece titled ‘This Gum Commercial Is Making Everyone Weep’, while the Daily Mail’s ‘Femail’ section asked whether Extra had created the most romantical commercial of all-time.
At a moment when the number of ‘viral’ videos circulated on any given day is almost impossible to countenance, a boost from a massively-popular aggregator like BuzzFeed or Femail can help to magnify and amplify the social spread of a campaign.
While we usually expect a flurry of romantic ads in February, Extra’s decision to launch outside of the Valentine’s market has seemingly paid dividends.
While ‘The Story of Sarah & Juan’ works more or less to formula, featuring a modern cover of a classic love song and a plot borrowed from Extra’s previous campaign, there’s no denying that the spot achieves what it set out to.
For the second time in two years the brand has managed to turn the gum wrapper, modern life’s most disposable pieces of rubbish, into a sentimental souvenir. Only time will tell how they charm us next.