It’s had almost 12 million views on YouTube, Ellen DeGeneres has bigged it up and it’s made both men and women react in ways they could never have expected at first. But what is it about this TV commercial – promoting Extra Gum and entitled “The Story of Sarah & Juan” – that has had so many people talking?
For one thing, the commercial pulls at the heartstrings from the very beginning. Indeed, as soon as it fades in, gentle piano chords are joined by the soft, angelic voice of Haley Reinhart singing a touching version of Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love.”
We are introduced immediately to the titular Sarah and Juan, played by Katie Clarkson-Hill and Luis Maesso, respectively, as they catch their first glimpse of each other at high school.
Then, Sarah’s schoolbooks fall to the ground – and Juan stoops down to help her collect them. Their eyes meet and they share their first laugh together. No lines of dialogue are spoken throughout the piece.
It’s at this point that Sarah offers Juan the initial stick of gum. That may seem like a cheap advertising gimmick now, but it’s soon going to become a major plot point.
Not long afterward, the young couple is seen sharing their first kiss in Juan’s car. It is brief but passionate – and as dreamy and idealized as the very best first kisses captured on screen.
But as Sarah leaves to head into her house, Juan unfurls a used chewing gum wrapper – one that fortunately doesn’t have any used gum inside – and takes out a pen. He begins to sketch.
But we don’t see what it was he drew or wrote on the wrapper, because the scene cuts to a loved-up stroll through a park and a serene picnic. Soon, though, Juan is witnessed again secretly documenting his idyllic time with Sarah.
Time passes, the seasons change – but Sarah and Juan are still very much in love. The perfect pair enjoys a second kiss in the snow, as well as a snowball fight.
But then, just as we’re hoping for a happily ever after, they bid each other an emotional farewell at the airport. It seems as if Sarah is leaving the country for work. What will this mean for our lovable lovebirds?
Fortunately, Sarah and Juan are able to keep a long-distance relationship going, staying in touch online. In one charming moment, Sarah touches the screen as she talks to Juan during a video call.
That makes what happens next twice as likely to cause a lump in the throat – Sarah and Juan are at last reunited, embracing in what is possibly the world’s biggest hug.
After seemingly “catching up” the couple lies next to each other and, while Sarah dozes, the camera focuses on the cryptic smile of Juan.
Now this is where things start to get really weepy. Sarah receives a phone call. It’s clear that the caller is Juan – and that he’s lined up a surprise for her. She enters, puzzled, into an art gallery.
Here we at last discover what Juan was up to with those used chewing gum wrappers. It turns out he was making cute little drawings of the pair’s happiest memories on them.
Sarah sees a picture of when they met, of that first kiss and of that snowball fight. Then the last drawing stops her in her tracks. Her jaw drops. We’re about to be hit by the tear-drenched emotional climax.
The final drawing is of Juan on bended knee, holding out a ring. An emotional Sarah wheels around to find Juan behind her, proposing marriage. Of course she says yes, reducing an untold number of viewers into blubbering, sobbing heaps of soppiness.
This ad for Wrigley’s Extra Gum was published on YouTube on October 7, 2015 accompanied by the hashtag #GiveExtragetextra. That hashtag alone garnered almost a quarter of a million social media impressions in its first two weeks, with many also saying that the commercial made them cry.
Advertising trade publication Adweek also made the commercial its “Ad of the Day” on October 8, 2015, describing the follow-up to Extra’s similarly celebrated “Origami” commercial as sticking “with a winning formula.”
Energy BBDO was the agency behind the ad, which was produced by Rattling Stick and directed by Pete Riski. They can all congratulate themselves on creating what is likely to be remembered as being one of the most romantic, heart-warming ads of all time.