Can you surf the web and chew gum at the same time?

September 26th, 2008

The NYT has an article (Get Off the Internet, and Chew Some Gum) on an ad campaign by Cadbury advocating that young people spend less time on the Internet and more being up close and personal, after, of course, sweetening their breath with Dentyne.

“The campaign, called “Make face time,” was created by McCann Erickson for Dentyne, a brand owned by Cadbury, the No. 2 gum maker in the United States after Wrigley. The ads feature happy people embracing and kissing — their breath presumably freshened by Dentyne — as an alternative to pounding their BlackBerrys or sending electronic messages to their Facebook friends.” (src)

Somewhat ironically, the ad campaign is going into high-gear now with a Web component. There is also a three minute version at

“It opens with a warning announcing that it will shut down after three minutes. “When people are surfing the Web, they’re missing the best part of life — being together,” it reads.”

When I viewed it, however, it was against a background of PHP error messages. Maybe that’s part of the message — get off the Web, it’s run by flaky machines that speak in strange and unnatural languages.

UMBC’s Zeynep Tufekci was quoted in the NYT article as a skeptic.

“That strategy could be a gamble, as the ads focus on exactly the people who are most passionate about these digital tools.

“I think most college kids would roll their eyes” at the ads, said Zeynep Tufekci, a sociologist at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, who studies the way young people use technology to socialize. “In fact, they’re checking out these sites in the hopes that sooner or later it will end up in a hug or kiss.”

Ms. Tufekci said that the idea that social networking sites and other digital tools have separated people from those that matter in their lives will probably not sit well with the gum industry’s young customers.

“This is a false dichotomy,” she said. People use online tools as a way to be more social, she said, updating their acquaintances on what they are doing and making plans to meet in person. Her research has shown that people who use these tools have just as many offline friends and spend just as much time with them as people who do not socialize online.” (src)

Ths makes me wonder if the Dentyne lose its flavor on the Web post overnight.

(Apologies to The Happiness Boys)