Altoidia – Land of Sour People of Pain

Another Gold winner at the 2005 Cannes Lions is Leo Burnett‘s Altoids campaign of new myths: “People of Pain”, “Mastering the Mother Tongue”, “Fable of the Fruit Bat”, featuring a mythical anthropologist Sir Gerald Pines investigating the impact of strong mints.

“People of Pain” features bumbling English anthropologist Sir Gerald Pines investigating the pain-resistant culture of the land of Altoidia. Ultimately he is initiated to the crutch crushing ritual – an ordeal he endures with bravado inspired by both English stiff upper lip and the effects of sucking on Altoids. Altoidia – Land of Sour, People of Pain. This constant exposure to curiously strong sour has rendered these islanders immune to pain as evident in simple greetings, even daily tasks. After months of study I was invited to join their clan to observe their sacred pain ritual. “Bit much that.” “Carry on then.”

Land of the Fruit Bat features our arrogant anthropologist scoffing the fear of the giant fruit bat. In the middle of his debunkal Pines is picked up by a giant bat and thrown against his truck. Altoidia – Land of the Fruit Bat. Natives on Altoidia live in fear of chew-chew – fabled fruit bat, a winged giant driven mad by the slightest hint of sourness. Of course, it’s madness, a bogeyman sham cooked up by a… ah!… bad doggie bad doggie! Righto I’m alright. Nothing to see here.

Theresa Hogue, a columnist with Corvallis Gazette Times, points out the inherent racism being demonstrated in the the Altoidia series.

“What’s not so funny about the Altoid’s ad campaign is its complete dependence on the stereotype of the superior, if bumbling, white European male colonizer as he documents the lives of the dark-skinned, loin-cloth wearing natives as if journaling the life of an exotic new bird species. The “natives,” at least so far, are not even given dialogue, and are really more of a colorful backdrop against the antics of the white explorer.”


The Altoidia campaign was developed at Leo Burnett Chicago by creative directors G. Andrew Meyer and Noel Haan, and agency producers David Moore and Vince Geraghty.

Director Craig Gillespie worked via production company: MJZ Los Angeles, with producer Deb Tietjen.

Editor was Paul Martinez at Lost Planet.

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