It’s your modern day story of boy meets girl, girl spills her notebook outside her high school locker, boy helps her pick up her papers and girl offers him a stick of gum.
It’s a story that has been viewed closed to 74 million times via a range of video channels, with more than 5.5 million of those clicks taking place on YouTube. “The Story of Sarah and Juan,” as the two-ish minute video goes, is a commercial for Wrigley’s Extra Gum, and the spot is a follow-up to the one in which a father and daughter bond over life’s travails only to find heartbroken dad uncovering a raft of origami gum wrappers his daughter made for him after said child goes off to school. It’s been a good week for all things Wrigley given the success of the Cubs in their defeat of the Cardinals at their iconic Chicago stadium.
But back to our story of gum and the role of viral video. Both this past week’s hit and the previous Extra spot are the work of ad agency Energy BBDO and directed by Pete Riski of Rattling Stick, a small production company noted for its creative commercial campaigns. With a cover of Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling In Love” whispering the in background, the story of two gum-crossed lovers is certainly going to pass the success of its predecessor which, according to the agency “helped drive double digit growth for the gum’s base business.”
This brilliant piece of commercial digital artistry is notable for a number of reasons. First off, it shows how online video represents a versatile storytelling canvas that can spin a tightly scripted idea that conveys a universal message that elevates a brand from its myriad competitors. Second, it shows that a commercial effort that touches audiences can benefit from the velocity gained via social media. Beyond YouTube, the Extra commercial was especially buzzy on Twitter, with a slew of comments such as this one from @JennGray93: “Well Extra’s ad about love and gum is about as emotional as a full length movie.”
Lastly, there’s the accountability issue. Consider those Super Bowls of the past in which flash-in-the-pan dot.com companies overspent for 30 seconds of airtime, only to find the spots had no material impact on their business. Having an agency the caliber of BBDO state publicly that a single video ad provided a double-digit uplift to a company’s business is notable. Far too often, the entire cause and effect part of a given video campaign is left out of the post-game conference. “Yes, our video had 50 million views on YouTube,” is the familiar refrain. When asked if it helped sales, the proud exec would generally respond with something akin to, “We’re still waiting to see.”
By the way, second among Ad Age’s viral videos of the week is a clip entitled “This Unicorn Changed the Way I Poop,” with nearly 24 million views. No, this is not a joke. The squatty potty is serious business — just ask Lori Greiner from “Shark Tank.”