by David Mendez
First Twinkies, now this? From the New York Times:
Now, in what the brand is calling a reimagined Bazooka, it has overhauled its logo and packaging.
Gone is the red, white and blue color scheme and geometric design of the brand, replaced with more saturated hues like fuchsia and yellow, and with the splattered-paint look of graffiti.
“What we’re trying to do with the relaunch is to make the brand relevant again to today’s kids,” said Anthony Trani, vice president of marketing at Bazooka Candy Brands, a division of the Topps Company.
Ken Carbone, a founder of the Carbone Smolan Agency, a Manhattan branding and design firm, reviewed the new Bazooka design, and said it “takes visual cues from comic books and skateboard culture and graffiti” and that it “feels right for today.”
If I told you that I was heavily emotionally invested in Bazooka gum, I'd be lying to you (I'm a Spearmint Trident man through and through, for one), but this seems like an effort at rebranding that's completely off the mark—one that even the branding firm the Times consulted for the story questions.
“I wonder if they couldn’t have taken more from what they had and re-energized it to make it look cool, like the Juicy Fruit model and Hershey’s model,” said Mr. Carbone, referring to the gum brand and chocolate bar that have tweaked their looks over the years but not metamorphosed. “I think this is a little bit of an overreach,” he said, “because they had some equity and authenticity” in their original design.
And the big news, of course, has to do with Bazooka Joe taking a reduced role.
Bazooka Joe and his sidekick, Mort, who wears his turtleneck up over his mouth, will appear only occasionally as illustrations in the new inserts, but without the antics and corny jokes of the three-panel strips.
Only 7 percent of children age 6 to 12 are aware of the Bazooka Joe character, according to E-Poll Market Research, a brand and celebrity research firm that last collected data about the character in 2007. In contrast , an average 30 percent of children are aware of food product mascots, the firm said. Among children who are aware of Bazooka Joe, 41 percent liked the character, below the average likability for food characters, which is 54 percent.
This doesn't have the emotional cache of Twinkies going by the wayside, sure. While all good things (and even mediocre things, such as a gum mascot) have to go eventually, this leaves me with one nagging question: who's next to go? Chester Cheetah, of Cheetos? The anthropomorphic M&Ms? Dig 'Em, the Sugar Smacks Frog?
If Bazooka Joe and Twinkie the Kid have gone, no one is safe, friends.