Hip-hop artists have helped pedal everything from soft drinks to sneakers to sports cars. Now, the music is being used to promote the ultimate consumer pastime— chewing gum. Mentos Gum, to be specific.
In a marketing activation it hopes will spread across social media, Mentos parent company Perfetti Van Melle surprised Sam Jeschke, a freshman at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, on Wednesday (Aug. 30) with a truckload of 43,000 canisters of the brand’s fresh mint and spearmint gum—one for each student at the school—and challenged him to give them all away to students and faculty before the first day of school next Wednesday.
If Jeschke completes the job, DJ Khaled will perform a free concert for students at the school’s Kohl Center. The music producer and artist also will be sharing encouragement and news of Jeschke’s progress on his social accounts.
“I’m excited to partner with Mentos Gum on the #SamHasMentosGum campaign with the students of University of Wisconsin,” Khaled tells Billboard. “I’m looking forward to this challenge and most importantly giving the college students a performance of a lifetime with fan love.”
Why Khaled? “We wanted a hook for the entire campus to get involved, to have an event that would be fun for the whole college community here—and we felt like DJ was a perfect fit for Mentos,” says Sylvia Buxton, vp of marketing for Perfetti Van Melle North America. “He’s so well-loved, he’s so well-connected, and we have our own ‘connections propositions,’ so we thought he would be a great ambassador for us.”
Mentos marketing for several years has been centered on people connecting by sharing gum. “We recognize that real-world connections, particularly as students are entering a new environment like university or college, is a time of mixed emotions,” Buxton says. “With the enthusiasm of meeting new people there’s potential nervousness. We hope Mentos can help people connect.”
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Jeschke recently was selected to be a Mentos ambassador, but he had no idea he would hold the keys to a Khaled concert during his freshman orientation week. If he’s successful in sharing all the gum, he’ll also earn a year’s tuition.
To broaden the promotion’s scope, Perfetti Van Melle is encouraging other students to suggest ways Jeschke can unload the goods. Those who share a suggestion using the campaign hashtag will be entered in a drawing to win a VIP package to the show, including two tickets to the concert, coach-class airfare for two, hotel accommodations for two nights, ground transportation and cash for meals.
Buxton tells Billboard the promotion may have more surprises in store. “DJ Khaled’s typical shows include guest artists. We don’t know if there will be other others involved, but hopefully there will be another exciting announcement later to come,” she says.
Mentos is in 159 countries, so it’s fair to say Mentos is a global brand. Mentos comes in a lot of different shapes, flavors and sizes, so there’s something for everyone and every taste. A lot of other brands out there obsess about what makes us all different; we’d rather explore the things we have in common. The Mentos brand is well-known. And it’s well-loved too. So wherever you go, one thing you can be sure of when you meet someone new is that they love Mentos. This means that if you have Mentos in your hand you have the ultimate conversation starter, a sure way to make a connection. All you need to do is offer. After all— Who says no to Mentos?
About Perfetti Van Melle
Perfetti Van Melle Benelux B.V. is a privately owned global company that was established in March 2001 through the merger of Perfetti SpA and Van Melle B.V. Perfetti Van Melle manufactures and distributes sugar confectionery and chewing gum products in more than 150 countries. Today Perfetti Van Melle is one of the world’s largest confectionery groups, marketing highly renowned brands such as Mentos, Frisk, Chupa Chups, Smint, Fruittella, Alpenliebe, Golia, Vivident, Airheads, Happydent and Big Babol. The group has corporate headquarters in Italy and The Netherlands. U.S. operations are operated out of Erlanger, KY.