CDs share their thoughts on why Extra won the week in advertising

The ad that everyone wanted everyone else to see this week is coming to Canada. While much of the country may have already seen it on YouTube (where it had amassed more than 1.2 million views as of Friday), Mars Wrigley Canada confirmed that the short film “For when it’s time” for its Extra gum brand will be adapted for the Excel brand in Canada, with a media push on television, digital and social channels.

“As a company and as a brand, we are committed to creating better moments and more smiles for consumers,” said Barbara Cooper, marketing director, Mars Wrigley Canada, in a statement. “While Canada continues to stay vigilant and work together to put the pandemic behind us, we hope this film reminds everyone there are brighter days ahead. When the moment is right to reclaim what you’ve been missing, Excel Gum will be there to help give you a fresh start during your first in-person meeting, first post-pandemic kiss and first social activities as you re-enter life.”

The two-and-a-half minute ad by Energy BBDO—one of the first to enthusiastically embrace the idea that post-pandemic life is coming soon—very clearly touched a nerve with a lot of people when it blew up early this week. While the appeal may seem obvious, and the reaction was visceral for many, The Message reached out to a handful of Canadian creative directors and asked them how they felt about the ad.

Lyranda Martin Evans: CCO, Fellow Human Creative 

That woman who sprints from her Zoom meeting/kids/chaotic house into her dusty station wagon? I feel seen. In a text chat with my working mom crew this week, I wrote how I’m praying this lockdown will end just so I can go to Walmart and shop the sections that are roped off. I’ve never been so desperate to buy tube socks. Anything to get out of the house.

With more and more vaccines getting into arms, we can see a return to the “Before Times.” It’s all coming back to me! This spot beautifully hit a moment in time, and there’s a reason it’s being shared globally by regular people, and not just ad nerds. It reminds me of one of my favourite spots of all time, which 20 years ago hit the Y2K nail on the head (this spot for Nike).

With social distancing, masks, and online shopping (meaning no impulse buys at checkout), gum sales are down. The return to some sort of normalcy is exactly what Extra gum would love to celebrate. But so would we all. This spot is epic and hopeful and hilarious. Let’s hope as we roll into the roaring 20s, we’ll have more fun and more laughter, even in advertising.

Erin Kawalecki: Partner and CCO, Angry Butterfly

I was forwarded this spot by more than one person outside of advertising. And whether I like it personally or not (which, I must admit, I kind of do), that counts for something. Extra captured a moment in time and created something that people had a strong emotional reaction to. They weren’t too early or too late.

From an advertising standpoint, my first reaction before I watched it was “Oh great another COVID video.” But it won me over with the feeling and the craft—it was beautifully directed, cast, acted, art directed and sound designed. There’s nothing in it that made me think “OMG, how did they think of that?” But I watched it twice.

Ari Elkouby: Executive creative director, Wunderman Thompson

Years ago I was working on a confectionary account. We were reviewing feedback from a focus group, and I was struck by one of the testing respondent’s verbatim quotes: “If you’re going to sell me a bag of sugar you have an obligation to entertain me.”

Not only did Extra check that box, it clearly checked that box for my mom, who texted me about it. Which is a good reminder for us all to take in the work our industry does as a consumer, and not like Mrs. Elkouby, who likes to think she’s a producer. Just enjoy the damn spot, mom.

Kim Tarlo, Executive Creative Director,  Mint 

For me, this ad just hits. There has been a lot of bad over the last year. A massive part of which has been feelings of isolation, captivity and languish (word du jour). This ad goes right to the heart of that to spark unadulterated hope and joy. But not only that—comedy, which aren’t we all starving for?

The product clicks perfectly, I mean what’s gum for if not to get close to someone? But the real thing is that every time I watch this my chest flutters. In part because it’s fun to think of all the new connections and makeouts people will be able to have after this—not me of course, married up and happily making out. But also because as a CD, it’s an impressive production feat to pull off in the current world order. Mostly though, because that first day breaking free, I know I am going to feel how this ad feels. And you better believe, Celine will be playing in my headphones

Terri Roberts: Creative director, Ray

I’ll be honest, I ugly cried a little bit. Celine Dion was the only choice; long may she reign. So many wonderful moments that are rooted in truth but also entirely absurd. It’s an over-the-top approach that feels completely appropriate for our over-the-top reality.

Besides, we could all use more humour. It’s the perpetual light in dark times. It gets us through a lot here in Newfoundland. We make fun of everything and everyone, mostly ourselves, until we all feel better. I’m just thankful we’ve moved on from the ‘we’re all in this together’ days. I never really bought it coming from advertisers. But I’d definitely buy this gum. It’s minty fresh goodness with a hint of much-needed hope and joy.

Angus Tucker: Chief creative officer, Theo

OMG, where do you start? This ad is perfect. The song. The casting. The little Easter eggs at every turn—the guy feeling the sun on his hand for the first time in 15 months kills me. But it’s the timing of it that is so remarkable. I have never quite needed an ad like I needed this ad.

It captures the pure and unfettered joy that is just around the corner for all of us who have been locked up and shut out from feeling human (and part of the human race) for so long. And they beautifully weaved in the product in a funny and very believable way—after a year indoors and behind a mask, we’re all going to need some gum.

I don’t know how well this ad will age a year from now when (fingers crossed!) this is all a distant memory, but it doesn’t matter. Extra met the moment before any other brand did, and for a week in early May 2021, it was all anyone was talking about.

Meghan Kraemer: Partner and creative director, Hard Work Club

Once a year or so, all the non-advertising people in my life send me a spot. So far, I’ve been sent this one eight times, including from an ex. Clearly, it’s resonating. This feels like one of the first in what will surely be a well-trodden genre: “post-pandemic fantasy.” It works because it eschews heavy-handed emotion and teary reunions, opting for quirk and humour instead.

I love all the executional touches—the masks rolling in the opening shot like a tumbleweed in a western, the guy’s mismatched socks, the endless supply of toilet paper stacked in the corner of a messy apartment.

It all amounts to us watching what is basically a PG-rated park orgy when it’s well-documented that it’s been a pretty sexless year for many. The casting is great. The recognizable power-ballad as soundtrack trick still works. We all get a scenario to relate to.

This playful romp is a great example of turning your brand’s limitations—the fact that no one is chewing gum during the pandemic—into an advantage, aligning Extra with the happy ending we’re all longing for.

Denise Rossetto: Partner and chief creative officer, Broken Heart Love Affair

There have been so many ads around the pandemic this year. Some great. Most horrible. But none have resonated with people (real people as well as ad people) more than this one. Is it perfect? Does it go on too long? Do we get the kissing bit already? Are we a bit confused when people break back into their offices and don’t seem to know what to do next? All good questions. All irrelevant.

It does what Dan Wieden said an ad should do: It makes people feel something, dude. And people are dying to feel what this ad makes them feel. We’ve thanked everyone. We’ve given tribute. We’ve honoured the spirit of so many. But now we all just want to throw off our masks, make out with the mailman, and have a fucking laugh already.

David Brown