Why An Antacid Brand Partnered On A Designer Handbag

Tums might not be a brand you’d associate with fashion. The Haleon antacid brand’s Tums Bag -- a limited-edition handbag designed to resemble the brand’s distinctive bottle, released earlier this month –--might change your mind.

The release follows, and plays off of, a number of food brands releasing playful fashion items in recent years -- including Halo Top’s PintPack bag this summer.

The brand collaborated with Nik Bentel, the New York City designer who helped spark the trend with a viral Barilla pasta bag in 2021.

CPG Insider caught up with Bentel and Amy Sharon, brand director at Tums for Haleon, to discuss what led to the partnership, and what such collaborations provide to brands and designers.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

CPG Insider: What led the Tums team to be interested in this kind of partnership?

Amy Sharon: Over the past year, we have seen the integration of food and fashion, and we knew we had to respond in a way that was unique to Tums and our product’s ability to help users “Love Food Back.”

Nik was the right partner because he has a remarkable talent for transforming everyday items that consumers know and love into extraordinary fashion statements. His ability to blend the essence of Tums with trending fashion resulted in a one-of-a-kind accessory.

CPG Insider: How does this initiative relate to Tums’ past marketing efforts and initiatives?

Sharon: Tums is all about “Loving Food Back,” and the Tums Bag embodies this by allowing our customers to express their love for food, fashion and our brand all at once.

While the Tums Bag is our first step into premium accessories, earlier this year we launched the Tums Shop, a site for consumers to shop official Tums-branded merchandise. We look forward to creating more fun lifestyle items and accessories for our loyal brand fans.

CPG Insider: How long has this project been in development, and what went into bringing it to life?

Nik Bentel: Tums initially reached out around a year ago. Basically, how the design process works is, we go through a number of different concepts of how the bag will transpire from the concept, and get into the design nitty gritty.

The main goal was to imitate the bottle in some way. One of the things we were thinking about with Tums bottles was how to reimagine it as something usable. Making it larger makes it slightly novel as well as more functional.

Initially, we started thinking about metal and materials we wouldn’t normally see in handbags, chrome finishes, other ways to capture the look and feel of the bottle. This bag in particular I'm very excited about because it's very material-heavy. It was a deep dive into what materials we could make this bag out of, and we ended up with a unique material: a mix of metal components, enamel on the front, and acrylic with a felted interior.

CPG Insider: What were the main challenges in bringing the concept to life?

Nik Bentel: The main challenge was thinking about materials and manufacturing. If we were going to make this bag a functional silhouette of the bottle, we had to figure out questions like if it will rest on the hip while maintaining the look of a Tums bottle, and what materials will push the boundaries.

In the concepting phase, we thought about a wide variety of ways this shape and design could come to fruition. We tried the most practical ones, which all revolved around this silhouette. We were considering leather for a bit, but switching materials was a really good call to capture the feel of the Tums bottle.  I make a lot of handbags out of leather, and they don't have the same originality imbued into the material.

CPG Insider: What do you think explains the popularity of these types of branded partnerships and products, for brands and design partners?

Sharon: Consumers love to identify with brands that resonate with them. When brands tap into this type of fandom by creating unique lifestyle items, fans feel seen and respond favorably.

Bentel: We are seeing a lot of projects that take a brand and turn it into something unique that they wouldn't typically be associated with.

As a designer, when it gets really exciting is when it’s a larger brand that’s been around for a long time. People know the shape of the bottle, or the shape of the logo, and it’s really exciting to be able to rethink it and redesign something we’ve grown up seeing regularly.

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