Brandtique: Dentyne

Much has changed since Dentyne ran its first national TV ad in 1956. That spot probably got a 40 share. Maybe higher if it ran during "I Love Lucy." Now TiVo-forward 51 years to 2007. Today, Dentyne spots would be lucky to pull in a 5 share.

Of course, marketing and TV have changed. There is now a glut of reality series, and TV spots are just part of a campaign that includes online banner ads, on-screen billboards, product placement, and sweepstakes. Dentyne is one brand that understands the changing media landscape. Make that Dentyne Ice, a skew launched in the late 1990s because demand for the classic version had cooled.

On the Jan. 17 episode of the CW reality show "Beauty and the Geek," the ongoing recalibration of TV marketing was readily apparent with Dentyne, a near-constant presence via the many ad options.

For the uninitiated, "Beauty and the Geek" is a sort of makeover show--at least for the perfect-SAT-scoring, MIT-graduating, "Star Trek"-revering half of the divide. Eight attractive women team with eight men tabbed "geeks"--these days probably future Silicon Valley sultans--and compete against one another, hoping their combo of looks and books will carry the day.



At the heart of the Jan. 17 episode is a "Dentyne Bachelor Auction," where the in-vogue beauties attempt to persuade an audience to bid for dates with their un-vogue teammates. As the men strut their stuff on stage, a massive Dentyne billboard is displayed behind them. Like the billboards that ring a European soccer field, it's visible from multiple angles as the action unfolds.

Prior to the auction (winning bid was a comical $32), the show's host says Dentyne has pledged to donate $5,000 to a charity. There is also product placement as the various Dentyne flavors are arrayed in front of a "geek" before he hits the stage; his partner even gives him some gum for inspiration.

The standard "brought to you in part by" is here as viewers head into a commercial break. There is also a "watch and win" sweepstakes located online at the CW Web site, where "Beauty and the Geek" fans can win a trip to Las Vegas. Promos on the lower-third of the screen direct viewers to the site, and even include a small shot of an "Ice" package.

(The Dentyne integration is among the top brand appearances of the week, according to measurement firm iTVX.).

Does Dentyne stick? Are consumers moved enough to buy a pack or two or switch from Doublemint or Orbit?

Maybe. Cynics would disagree, but the show offers some endearing, and apparently genuine, moments when the beauties--often portrayed as vapid--get emotional as the "geeks" unexpectedly succeed at a challenge. At the same time, the "geeks" seem to experience a boost in self-esteem.

Perhaps those moments make an impression on the viewers--the ones who identify both with the "geeks" and the chics. It's a leap, but to the degree they equate Dentyne with the touching moments, that could be a breath of fresh air for the brand.

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