Nov. 30, 2012 at 6:39 PM ET
By Scott Stump, TODAY contributor
Bazooka Joe has told his last corny joke.
In a bid to market its product to a new generation, Bazooka Candy Brands is getting rid of the Bazooka Joe comics on its gum wrappers and replacing them with brain teasers, activities, and codes that will unlock content on BazookaJoe.com, according to a report by The New York Times. The comics were known for their corny jokes and Bazooka Joe sidekicks like the turtleneck-clad Mort, but only 7 percent of children between six and 12 have heard of Bazooka Joe, according to E-Poll Market Research figures cited by the Times.
Bazooka Joe comics have been included with the gum since 1953, but by January, the redesigned packaging and logo will begin appearing in retailers like Target, 7-Eleven and Kroeger that had previously not been carrying Bazooka gum. The old red, white and blue boxes and wrappers will be replaced by a graffiti look with louder colors created by Goodwin Design Group. The redesign is one component of Bazooka’s first marketing campaign in five years, which will also include television commercials and online advertising.
“What we’re trying to do with the relaunch is to make the brand relevant again to today’s kids,” Anthony Trani, vice president of marketing at Bazooka Candy Brands, told the New York Times.
Bazooka gum has been around since 1947 but has seen its sales dip in recent years, including a projected 48 percent decline between 2007 and 2012. While many adults will remember buying the gum at penny candy stores by the individual piece, it will now be sold in packs of 10 pieces. Half the pieces will be a new blue raspberry flavor, and the other half will be the traditional Bazooka gum flavor. The pieces will also be bigger, going from 4.5 grams to 6 grams. (Dentyne Ice is 1.5 grams).
“Instead of a cheesy joke, we wanted to have a fun, engaging activity for kids, but the purpose wasn’t to not include Bazooka Joe,’’ Trani said. “To me it is all about doing one thing really well, and that is refreshing the Bazooka brand.”
Ken Carbone, the founder of a Manhattan branding and design firm, told the New York Times that he believes the new design “feels right for today,’’ but thinks maybe Bazooka should not have entirely scrapped its old design.
“I think this is a little bit of an overreach because they had some equity and authenticity” in the original packaging, Carbone said.