"Don't buy this gum. It tastes like rubber." is a favorite phrase for graffiti vandals to write on condom vending machines in men's rooms. I've seen it several times during roadside restroom breaks in various regions of the country, indicating either a well-traveled vandal with a tremendous lack of creativity or a graffitist meme of sorts. Oddly, the current campaign for Dentyne Ice gum draws a direct comparison between its product and prophylactics, highlighting the awkward moments associated with practicing safe sex and positioning the brand as prerequisite to getting it on.
The spot is certainly low-hanging fruit for attacks from conservative groups and advertising critics alike. One might argue that it makes light of safe sex, glorifies premarital sex or promiscuity, or makes a less-than-desirable connection between the product and something most people would just as soon avoid tasting.
But the spot is commendable for its straightforwardness. Virtually every product in the world has been shilled under the guises that it will improve your odds for a random sexual encounter with a man or woman infinitely more attractive than you. And today's brands no longer have the luxury of subtlety that they once enjoyed:
The spot also has a bit of an edge to it without giving us the Axe treatment, bludgeoning us with sophomoric sexual metaphor. Sure, "Practice safe breath" is an eye-roll inducing tagline. But depending on one's perspective, the ad is relatively tasteful while still driving home the message "This gum will get you laid." Not the most sophisticated creative in the world, but it's selling gum. Why overthink it?
Finally, the spot is relatable. The individuals the ad targets have likely experienced the awkwardness inherent in discussing, purchasing or being caught without the essentials. The spot is mildly amusing for anyone who has found themselves in a similar situation.
Will it sell more gum? Maybe. But it will no doubt get people talking. As tired and cliched as advertising of this ilk has become, the Dentyne Ice spot is refreshing. That says more about the sad state of the industry than it does about this individual execution, but I digress.