LIP balms, as the names of some of the older products in the category make clear, were historically marketed to treat ailments: ChapStick, introduced around 1912, was for chapping, and Blistex, introduced in 1947, was for blisters and sores.
The Olympic skier Suzy Chaffee, who in the 1970s referred to herself as Suzy Chapstick in hard-to-forget commercials for the brand, pitched the product from ski slopes as a solution both to heal cracked lips and to protect against wind and cold.
Now, Burt’s Bees, the natural personal care brand, is introducing television commercials — the first for the 30-year-old brand — that highlight its flavors more than its moisturizers.
A commercial being introduced on Monday opens with two bees flying while holding either end the brand’s signature yellow container. It is the original, peppermint-flavored lip balm, which was introduced in 1984. The bees drop the product, and as it falls, its cap pops off and a parachute of mint opens.
The scene continues with a cornucopia of other foods tied to flavors. A tube of wild cherry lip balm tips over, for example, and cherries spill out.
For all but the final five seconds of the spot, the only sound is upbeat acoustic guitar music accompanied, appropriately enough for a product associated with puckering up, by whistling. Then a voice-over says, “Discover all the naturally moisturizing flavors of Burt’s Bees lip balm.” The commercial closes with a tag line for the new campaign, “Uncap Flavor.”
Print ads follow the theme, with a honey-flavored tube of lip balm, for example, holding a butterfly net made of honeycomb, and in pursuit of butterflies formed from two wedges of mango that fly out of a tube of the mango flavor.
The campaign is by Baldwin& in Raleigh, N.C., the agency of record for Burt’s Bees, with production on the commercials by Brand New School in New York.
David Baldwin, a founder of Baldwin&, said that the packaging for the lip balm was featured prominently in the advertising because it was so recognizable.
“The little iconic yellow tube just kind of elicits a warm feeling from people,” Mr. Baldwin said. “It’s a passion brand, the kind of brand that walks in the world in a certain way and people love it.”
Burt’s Bees, which did not disclose advertising expenditures for the campaign, spent $26.4 million on advertising in 2013, and $15.9 million in the first six months of 2014, according to Kantar Media, a unit of WPP.
Founded in Maine in 1984, Burt’s Bees is now based in Durham, N.C., and owned by the Clorox Company.
Lip balm use among women decreases steadily with age, the inverse of lipstick use, which increases with age, according to consumer research by Mintel, a market research firm. For lip balm, 72 percent of women from 18 to 24 use it, as do 45 percent of women 65 and older; for lipstick, 50 percent of women from 18 to 24 and 82 percent of women 65 and older use it.
The marketing of lip balm “traditionally has been very functionally driven, just talking about, ‘You have dry lips, here’s a solution to your problem,’ ” said Tad Kittredge, associate director of marketing at Burt’s Bees. “But recently you’re starting to see a lot more of what I would call personality-driven and lifestyle-focused advertising, and we’re focused on the flavors as a way to reinforce the fun aspect of the brand.”
The original peppermint lip balm is the brand’s biggest seller, and the vanilla bean and coconut-and-pear flavors are the fastest growing. Mr. Kittredge said consumers tended to buy more than four of the products a year, and to scatter them, having a tube of balm in the bedroom, bathroom, at work and in a purse or pocket, for instance.
By regularly introducing new flavors — there are now 11, eight of them featured in the new campaign — the brand hopes that consumers will keep even more on hand, for the sake of variety. In that way, the products are becoming more like another flavored offering near cash registers.
“Lip balm is becoming something more like a gum product that brightens up consumers’ day,” Mr. Kittredge said.
“Burt’s Buzz,” a film that was released in June in the United States, followsBurt Shavitz, the scraggly bearded former hippie who co-founded Burt’s Bees and whose face is still featured in a woodcut drawing on many of the products.
The documentary explores Mr. Shavitz’s ill-considered decision to sell his share of the company to his former romantic and business partner, Roxanne Quimby, for $130,000 in 1999. Ms. Quimby then sold the company to Clorox for $913 million in 2007, receiving $300 million for her stake. (She gave Mr. Shavitz an additional $4 million after the sale, The New Yorker reported in July.)
Today, Mr. Shavitz, 79, lives much as he did before he started Burt’s Bees, in a house in rural Maine that he heats with a wood stove and that has no running hot water.
As for the milestone of the brand named for him introducing its first television commercial, it will not be playing in his living room. Mr. Shavitz, who does not own a television, explains why in the documentary.
“There is no need of it,” he said.
Authored by ANDREW ADAM NEWMAN via nytimes.com.