WonderGroup Pushes Airheads

WonderGroup’s campaign for Perfetti Van Melle’s Airheads brand uses animation for over-the-top examples of how kids lose control after biting into the taffy candy.

The second of two 30-second television spots that employ the “Out of control” theme broke nationally on Saturday on children’s programming, said Bob Howard, vice president of North American marketing for the Erlanger, Ky.-based confectioner.

The Cincinnati agency’s TV spots show a boy’s head mushrooming into a balloon after he bites into an Airhead, then blasting off and bouncing around.

In one ad, he pops an Airhead into his mouth while inside a theater. “You are not going to do that in here?” asks a girl sitting next to him. The boy’s head swells, then bursts around the orchestra into a horn, onto the stage and then back to his seat.

Special effects for the campaign were created by San Francisco animation house Radium, according to Darren Weidman, WonderGroup’s associate creative director.

Past advertising for the brand from previous agency Avrett, Free & Ginsberg, New York, showed the candy losing control rather than the child.

“We wanted to focus on the feeling you experience when eating an Airhead,” Howard said. “The new work is a significant refinement to the overall brand strategy.”

The campaign promotes the company’s Airheads and Airheads Xtreme brands.

While Howard would not disclose media spending on the new campaign, CMR reports the candy maker’s media expenditures were $2 million in 2001.

WonderGroup won the account in February following what Howard described as an “informal” review.

The agency’s specialty in marketing to children and proximity to Perfetti Van Melle’s headquarters contributed to the assignment, Howard said.

WonderGroup brands itself as a youth advertising shop. Clients include Chupa Chups, Mudd Jeans and Chiquita Brands.

Perfetti Van Melle, which maintains global headquarters in Milan, Italy, claims to be the sixth-largest gum and confection company in the world. It is best known in the U.S. for its Mentos brand, which is handled by Barefoot Advertising in Cincinnati.

Carat in Atlanta handles media for both Mentos and Airheads.