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A few weeks ago I stumbled upon two articles about chewing gum in the same day.

One described a promotion with an interesting twist – a clothing designer who was inspired by a package of gum.  The inspiration was “supported” (trying to find a nice word for contrived, here).  It didn’t happen serendipitously, but that was okay, it was fun, creative and a little wacky.  I could appreciate that someone had put some effort into the project.  And after sex, “fashion” sells, right?

I believe that, theoretically, a talented Marketing person can successfully market any product, with the right research, plan, programme and support.  I have a friend, and former colleague, who always said it didn’t matter what the product was, it could be ball bearings or buttons, it was all the same to her.  Knowing her, she probably could successfully market anything.

While I understand and respect  this point of view, it’s different for me.  It’s important for me to see some intrinsic value in the product or service I work on, or to be somehow connected.  I’ve worked on cosmetics, Health and Beauty products, OTC  consumer Brands and on medical related B2B service products.  I find it’s easier to identify with the consumer/end-user, to understand what motivates them and what moves them, when you have an affinity of some sort of for the product.

Let’s Keep it Credible!

The second article was about innovation in chewing gum, the addition of “herbal” ingredients and new flavours. It was an interesting read until I came across this quote, reportedly by the Marketing Director of Trident. In talking about gum chewers over the age of 34, he was quoted as saying this group of consumers was looking for gum “that embodies more of an air of sophistication”.

Gum and sophistication?  That’s pretty close to being an oxymoron.  I don’t think there can possibly be any way that gum can “embody an air of sophistication” when the act of masticating it is not really a pretty sight, at any age and when gum chewing is frowned upon in most social settings.

I wholeheartedly agree that it is important for Marketers to “live the brand”, but the danger in doing so too enthusiastically is the potential of going overboard and taking ourselves and our product too seriously.  Of losing perspective because the focus is  totally on the product or brand to the exclusion of its context in the real world.  This is where Marketers lose credibility.

There are just some things you can’t make sophisticated.   Or sexy.