Smints Green Lights Blue Sky

Blue Sky has won the Chupa Chups Group’s Smints marketing account.

The Atlanta shop won the so-called “power mint” business after a review that originally included crosstown rivals Huey/Paprocki, Austin Kelley Advertising and Freebairn & Company Marketing.

Blue Sky president Rob Farinella, acting on a late tip from a contact at Turner Broadcasting System’s Cartoon Network, said he “crow-barred my way into the review.”

Austin Kelley, according to sources familiar with the review, dropped out of the competition early on because of a client conflict.

Annual billings are estimated at $3 million.

“This is a great product in a fun category,” said Farinella. “When we went in, we were careful to avoidall the obvious bad breath jokes.”

Farinella’s pitch team, which included copywriters Chris Breen and Cathy Lepik, sealed the victory with two radio campaigns. “Irresistible” plays off the product’s international tagline, “No Smints, no kiss.” It features two wiseguys engaged in Sopranos-like dialogue extolling the mint’s ability to enhance one’s sex appeal. (Smints are distributed in 160 countries.)

The second campaign, “Style,” takes the form of a “dating guide” that positions the confection as a fashion accessory.

Smints is a division of Chupa Chups Group of Barcelona, Spain, the world’s largest lollipop manufacturer. The company’s 1999 sales totaled more than $445 million.

Chupa Chups USA marketing director Jesus Sales and other executives at the client’s Atlanta headquarters will approve one of Blue Sky’s campaigns this week.

The work is scheduled to break on radio stations in Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco, Seattle and Portland, Ore., later this summer, in conjunction with a series of promotional events.

Chupa Chups, which already enjoys a solid presence in the western U.S., is attempting to gain market share against domestic leader Atltoids Mints, a unit of Kraft Foods. Altoids are marketed by Leo Burnett of Chicago.

Other competitors include Certs Breath Mints and Tic-Tac.

Developed in 1994 and using an all-natural sugar substitute calledXylitol, Smints are distributed ina plastic container that resemblesa kitschy Pez dispenser gone high tech.

“This is an all-around superior product,” said Farinella. “Our challenge is to make it cool.”