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Creative Vegan Creative Works

How Nuud is tackling the sticky topic of big gum’s plastic problem


By Amy Houston, Senior Reporter

May 4, 2023 | 4 min read

On this week’s Anatomy of an Ad podcast, we hear about the shocking amount of plastic in chewing gum and why this vegan brand is campaigning for transparency while positioning itself as an alternative.

Gum - 01

Vegan gum brand Nuud’s billboard ad / The Or

Earlier this month, biodegradable gum brand Nuud took a stand against other brands in the category for not being transparent about the startling amount of plastic in their minty confectionary. With a series of provocative billboards, Nuud didn’t shy away from targeting the likes of Wrigley’s, Juicy Fruit, Extra and Airwaves.

“The business was founded on the realization that there is a drinking straw’s worth of single-use plastic hidden in every piece of regular chewing gum. Which we think is a crazy fact," says founder Keir Carney. “Big gum does a fantastic job of hiding that.” In short, he wants everyone to chew plants, not plastic.

The stats don’t end there either, in fact, they have formed the basis for this entire campaign. Carey claims that in the UK alone, people go through 5bn pieces of gum annually and roughly 85% of people are completely unaware of its plastic content.

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“The reason people don’t know is that big gum hides all the plastic in the proprietary ingredient, a term called gum base,” he explains. “If you were to unravel that ingredient, you would see terms like polyethylene, polystyrene, lots of the same plastics you find in shampoo bottles, water bottles and carrier bags.”

Through their various polling initiatives, Nuud found that 84% of participants want gum brands to be more forthcoming with what their ingredients really mean. Carney isn’t necessarily advocating for a ban on plastic gum but hopes his business can operate in an industry that is honest with consumers.

This is where Paulo Salomao comes in. His team at The Or worked on the creative execution to bring Carney’s findings, and his brand, to the public. “The stats don’t lie and are powerful. The marketing solution starts to present itself pretty easily,” explains Salomao. “It’s not about stopping them from being in business, it’s a transparency play. It’s a fun, subversive way of doing that. It’s not trying to be high and might.”

The billboards themselves don’t directly name names, but the colorways cheekily give everything away. They were conscious that they didn’t want to deviate from Nuud’s bubble tone of voice, Salomao continues. “You want there to be something that is straightforward but has a bit of shock factor, that lands really quickly.

“This campaign could have been translated into a long-form copy poster ad, but it doesn’t need it. It does everything it needs to do in few words.”

To hear if Carney was on board with the billboards right away and if they’ve had any acknowledgment from big gum brands listen to the full interview here.

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