When Cadbury entered the UK chewing gum market in 2007 with Trident, its ad campaign, featuring a West Indian character and the strapline 'Mastication for the nation', certainly attracted attention.
The Advertising Standards Authority received more than 500 complaints that the JWT ad belittled Caribbean people. The ASA agreed, and banned it.
Nonetheless, by 2008 Trident had achieved annual sales of £26.2m. Buoyed by this start, Cadbury signed up Beyonce to front a promotional campaign that offered consumers tickets to an exclusive gig at The O2.
The promotional activity, which started in spring 2009, included dancing girls in London's Piccadilly Circus, outdoor, print, radio and digital ads and point-of-sale material.
However, sales plummeted by 27.1% to £19.1m in 2009 and Trident will have to rethink its strategy if it is to challenge the category leader, Wrigley. In comparison, Wrigley's Extra had sales of £153.9m in 2009, while its Airwaves variant was worth £30.9m.
Cadbury is confident it can steal share from Wrigley, and last autumn launched a functional gum through its Trebor brand. This differs from Trident in that it is designed to freshen breath.
So can Cadbury get Trident back on track or should it focus on Trebor instead? We asked Lisa Thomas, chief executive of LIDA, and MCBD planning director Carl Ratcliff, who has worked on the Dr Pepper and Tango brands.
- Two industry experts explain where Trident lost its bite
LISA THOMAS, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, LIDA
Having been around on our shelves (and often our pavements) for just three years, Trident is a relatively new kid on the block. I remember its many fruity flavours exploding onto the market, giving teenagers and football managers an alternative to spearmint.
However, the gum market is in decline and Trident is a big casualty, with 2009 sales dropping by a sizeable 27% and Cadbury streamlining its range.
You don't have to be a chewing addict to understand the brand is all about fun over function - from the product itself to a recent musical chairs promotion. Fine for the under-25s, but the population is ageing and this audience shrinking.
Meanwhile, other confectionery brands are taking a more successful, grown-up approach - most recently category leader Wrigley with the launch of 5: a sophisticated, stylish and adult-feeling product.
There's also the matter of a potential 15p-a-pack gum tax. Trident's response is a nod to 'responsible chewing', with an animation to illustrate this online.
Nonetheless it will take more than a gimmicky approach to lift Trident.
- Consider a more sophisticated range to ensure adult appeal. This Cadbury-owned brand can learn lessons from the chocolate category.
- Build focus on responsible chewing - respond, or risk government intervention.
- Discontinue underperforming variants. Ensure the range isn't too wide and complex for the audience.
- Don't underestimate the power of good merchandising. Ensure you capture attention in key impulse areas.
- Focus on an oral-hygiene message - don't bury the sugar-free positioning.
CARL RATCLIFF, PLANNING DIRECTOR, MCBD
We're all familiar with classic brand 'wars' - the plight of the challenger - though I suspect most of us haven't given much thought to gum, specifically to Wrigley (now owned by Mars) and Trident (Cadbury).
Gum is big business and Wrigley has the lion's share. Trident launched with noise and conviction back in 2007, acquired an advertising ban then claimed it would steal a 25% market share. Within months it rallied at 15%. Then, something came unstuck.
Gum is a 'coma-market', true, and responds well to innovation, but it seems to me that Cadbury has been too ambitious with Trident. Flavour and format extensions haven't achieved the traction the business imagined.
Mars' Extra brand feels less needy, less an advertising conceit and more an accessory than a sweet. Trident gives the impression it is trying too hard. As far as I'm aware, gum doesn't 'mess with your head' and Willy Wonka-style flavours (anyone for chocolate mint?) cement a childish, 'sweet' positioning.
- Rightly the business is now operating a one-in, one-out policy on flavour extensions - additionally, it should de-Wonka, to a degree.
- Trident is the original space gum (NASA sponsored it) and was the original sugar-free gum (dentists recommended it). It should extrapolate from this, not ignore it.
- Invest in packaging design. Bulk and garishness offer distinction, but Trident is neither fish (chewing gum) nor fowl (bubble gum).
- Consider TV sponsorship, or even ad-funded programming.
- Work out a definition of a brand steeped in truth not conceit.