Cross Media Case Study: Putting the Teen in Dentyne

Snap it. Chew it. Twist it. Blow a few bubbles. Gum is one of those commodities you don't think about much until it's not there, and then you're like a junkie, desperate for a fix.

Dentyne, known for its bright red package and long-lasting cinnamon flavor, feeds the addiction of many consumers hooked on the simple pleasures of gum. But Dentyne, like other classic brands, has evolved over the years as tastes have changed. Last summer's launch of Dentyne Tango offered a new challenge  Dentyne needed to reinvent itself for a younger generation of consumers with a new media sensibility.

Tango represents the third and newest flavor of Cadbury Adams' recently introduced line of gum. It follows extreme flavors Dentyne Ice and Dentyne Fire. Assuring Tango's success meant connecting with teens  not an easy task.

"One of the things about working with a true, classic brand like Dentyne is that you're always aware of the rich advertising legacy you have to live up to," says Vicky Lozano, director of marketing for Cadbury Adams, the marketer of popular chewing gum, breath mint, and throat drops brands. Dentyne needed to rev up the marketing machine for Tango and experiment with online media without compromising its rich legacy.

In the nearly half century since its first national TV campaign, Dentyne has been on the forefront of finding ways to reach teens where they live, work, and play. The brand sponsored youth-oriented programming ranging from "American Bandstand" in its heyday, to MTV. It pioneered youth-focused advertising on top 40 radio stations and teen magazines. But it was time for Cadbury Adams to deploy marketing to a new generation, one that is deeply tied to an Internet culture and used to making choices.

"This generation of teens is accustomed to being in control of media messages," says Lozano. "They're used to having a wide choice about the stimuli they want, so in communicating with them, there's a major relearning about how to communicate. You have to be engaging. You can't hit anyone over the head. There's really no room for a hard-sell," she observes.

Working with McCann-Erickson, New York, Dentyne looked first at how to make optimal use of television, the mainstay of its traditional media approach.

"TV has always been a critical linchpin for us," Lozano says. "We felt like we knew how to use the medium to reach a wide range of younger viewers with an exciting, engaging, sexy, and appealing message. The goal with TV was to come up with spots that worked somewhat like music videos and really involved viewers."

The agency employed teens in everyday settings  an outdoor cafe, a night club, and a living room  where they were seduced by the flavor of the gum. The spots were all set to compelling music.

The TV spots for Fire, Ice, and Tango ran on cable networks such as Spike TV and MTV, as well as networks like the WB, and syndicated programming targeting 14- to 25-year-olds. Confident that it hit upon a message that resonated with young adults, Dentyne's next challenge was to precisely reach the core target of the campaign, 13- to 17-year-olds. This entailed finding a way to complement the broad reach of the TV spots with the intimate relationship possible with online media, according to Steve Aronson, creative director of IMC Solutions, Dentyne's creative agency for digital media.

Working with IMC and Avenue A/Razorfish New York, Dentyne concluded that the real online hangouts were the instant messaging boxes that millions of teens keep up whenever they're online.

"We saw some great studies that made it clear that teens spend more time on the Internet than anywhere else, and that IM was the activity that was the closest to their lives," Lozano says.

In October 2004, Dentyne launched a promotion on Yahoo!'s Messenger environment that allowed users to decorate their IM boxes with downloadable Tango-related motifs. In another promotion, Dentyne served as the exclusive content sponsor of AOL's Red@Night, an online virtual nightclub that streams feeds from trendy night spots, an environment that teens are usually excluded from. At the site, teens interact with a real New York dance club via live video feed, streaming audio, chat, and polls.

On Launch, Yahoo!'s digital music venue, Dentyne ran extended, rich media versions of its TV spots. Dentyne also developed interactive experiences involving the "Bold" flavors such as a "What's Your Mood Tonight?" game designed to ascertain whether players were feeling "flirty" (Dentyne Ice), "daring" (Dentyne Fire), or "playful" (Dentyne Tango).

"We tried to find as many ways as possible to embed our message in interesting content," Aronson says. "AOL Red@Night allowed us to do something far more exciting than just doing a banner. We used the venue to give teens an exclusive look at the real life of a nightclub and give them a peek under the tent of hip nightlife. We allowed teens to play with the environment and play with the messaging. They could look at the club from the standpoint of the DJ or the bouncer, the main dance floor or the side room," he explains.

Lozano believes such sponsorship opportunities with innovative Web sites are a far more effective way of presenting the Dentyne brand online than just running traditional banner ads.

"On the Web, just putting up ads somewhere was not going to cut it for us," notes Lozano. "Not with our market. We had to integrate our message with content that's relevant to young people's lives. We wanted to make Dentyne part of their environment whenever they're chatting."

"The way we thought about this," she adds, "and much more importantly, the way teens today think about it, is not 'Is this an Internet ad or a TV ad?' With them it's a continuum, and we want our message to move seamlessly from one medium to the other."

While eschewing the hard sell, Dentyne nonetheless wanted results. "Of course we're not in this for good will alone," Lozano emphasizes. "So when I say soft sell is the key to this generation, it's still ultimately about creating loyal customers. But the way we see ourselves doing that is by building relationships with the brand." Initial results from the three-month trial gave Cadbury Adams plenty of evidence that Dentyne is once again connecting with teens on their home turf.

"We've seen the needle not just move, but move pretty dramatically in the key areas we were watching including brand awareness and purchase intent," Lozano says. "We had 40 million impressions in less than three months. For the month of October, Yahoo! reported that Dentyne was the most downloaded visual icon among users of its IM environment."

It was great news for Dentyne, as the brand was in front of millions of teens for hours each day. The best part? Teens "chose to put us there," Lozano says, adding, "Where else can you get that kind of intimate relationship in today's over-saturated ad environment?"

"This was a big departure in some ways for us," Lozano adds. "But nothing here was about replacing what we can do in traditional media. We're expanding our repertoire."

Buoyed by the test results, Dentyne will be even bolder this spring. It plans to significantly expand integrated marketing efforts throughout the year.

"This was only the beginning," Aronson says. "We saw ourselves as laying the groundwork for leveraging online as a hub to connect all our other media efforts. Now that we've taken that step, the next wave will be much more ambitious." Plans include linking live events and sponsorships, along with sampling experiences, more closely to the Dentyne Tango Web site. Integrated print, TV, online, and in-store media will continue to be a part of the equation.

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