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By gum, this is rum

CERTAIN big advertisers are legendary for the iron-clad conservatism and consistency of their communications. I've always thought of Wrigley's as being like that in spades.

Over the years these have been the continuing elements: marching bands with giant gum cartons; constant reiteration of the good-for-the-teeth- and-breath product claims; all-American couples meeting on all-American buses. That kind of thing. But recently I had a flash of doubt over a commercial that suggested the director knew the word "spoof" and might admit to seeing a John Waters film. And I'm genuinely puzzled by their latest.

It features the marching band, the giant carton and the drum majorettes in a way that makes you think that a pair of quotation marks could, just possibly, figure somewhere. It also features a young couple - utterly mainstream Middle-Americans, admittedly - who seem to be watching this grand old stuff from another time zone, ie, roughly now. And they actually say, over the pack shot, "Still as BIG as ever".

I'm pretty sure the cavalcade they're watching is the real old footage. I think the voice-over is the original. I'd even bet Patrick Allen's doing it and that the timeless refrain "Gum, gum, gum, Wrigley's chewing gum" is for real. The question is, why have they dug it up?

Is it one of those straight homages advertisers like Kellogg's or Colgate have done recently to celebrate brand heritage? Is it because they want to get in on the Seventies thing - you could add Karen and Richard Carpenter to this mix any day - or does someone actually think that historic Wrigley- World is a bit ... you know, subtexty and commentaryish or funny? Or even that the rapturous way the blonde modern spectator with the daisy barrette mouths the stick of flavoured gum could be just faintly