He also experimented with advertising, first in 1906 in newspapers and magazines and on outdoor boards. By 1908, sales of Wrigley's Spearmint topped $1 million a year.
One of that brand's first advertising icons was "Spearman," introduced in 1915. The impish creature, which at first resembled an arrow with a face, grew to resemble a piece of gum and continued to be used in the company's ads until 1970.
During World War I, Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. ads encouraged Americans to buy Liberty Bonds and War Savings Bonds, contribute to the Red Cross and comply with food and fuel regulations. After the war, Wrigley touted its low prices, using the 1919'20 campaign theme: "Five cents before the war, five cents during the war, five cents now."
Indirectly, the war greatly benefited Wrigley, as U.S. servicemen acted as unofficial ambassadors for the company's products, showing Europeans how to chew gum. Sales rose from $15.4 million in 1917 to $27 million only two years later.
Mr. Wrigley's son, Philip, who became president of the company in 1925, convinced his father to try radio advertising, and in December 1927 "The Wrigley Review" aired. It was one of the first coast-to-coast radio network programs, broadcast on 27 stations affiliated with the NBC network.
But most of the ad budget at the conservatively run company was dedicated to posters and public transportation car cards. When one car-card provider went bankrupt, Wrigley formed the New York Subways Advertising Co., which it retained as a subsidiary until 1949.
In 1933, Wrigley tapped Neisser-Meyerhoff to handle its account and in 1940 moved the account to Arthur Meyerhoff & Co. In the late 1930s, Meyerhoff introduced the popular "twins" campaign for Doublemint gum, a product introduced in 1914. Radio featured pairs of piano players and double-talking comedians; print featured identical twins.
In 1940, J. Walter Thompson Co. won the Doublemint account and put the brand into radio sponsoring "Gene Autry's Melody Ranch." In 1959, TV spots featuring twins were introduced along with the "Double Your Pleasure, Double Your Fun" jingle.
By 1940, Wrigley's sales were the highest in its history, but Europe was at war and the U.S. was soon to follow. As its supply of raw materials dwindled and large amounts of Wrigley's Spearmint, Juicy Fruit and Doublemint were shipped to the armed forces overseas, Wrigley found it could no longer meet demand at the retail level. It opted to remove its brands from store shelves rather than use what it deemed to be inferior ingredients for its flagship brands.
At the same time, Wrigley launched a campaign that showed an empty Wrigley's Spearmint wrapper with text that read: "Remember this wrapper—it means chewing gum of the finest quality and flavor. It will be empty until gum of Wrigley Spearmint's quality can again be made." Wrigley's Spearmint and Juicy Fruit went back on store shelves in 1946 and Doublemint followed in 1947.
New brand introductions
From the mid-1970s through the mid-'90s, Wrigley introduced a number of new brands, including sugar-free Orbit as well as Freedent, Big Red, Hubba Bubba, Amurol, Extra and Winterfresh gums. In 1978, Batten, Barton, Durstine & Osborn acquired Meyerhoff, Wrigley's longtime agency, and took over Wrigley's advertising.
By the mid-1990s, competitors such as Warner-Lambert Co.'s Chiclets and Beechnut were encroaching on Wrigley's turf. A campaign for Wrigley's Spearmint touted the gum's use as a cigarette substitute in non-smoking venues; an ad for the Winterfresh brand joked about bad breath; Juicy Fruit was positioned as a 10-calorie alternative to fattening desserts; and Doublemint moved away from its use of twins, instead adopting the tagline "Fresh taste. Fresh breath."
Wrigley also found that its oldest product, Juicy Fruit, had fallen out of favor with teens and that its tagline, "Taste is gonna move you," was moving no one. BBDO surveyed the core teen market, which said it liked Juicy Fruit's sweetness and came up with the "Gotta have sweet" campaign in summer 1998.
Competition, however, was waiting in the wings. Philip Morris Cos.' Altoids, a 200-year-old British breath mint whose sales skyrocketed in 1995 following hip ads from Leo Burnett Co., became Wrigley's nemesis. With the arrival of other competitors in the segment, mint sales skyrocketed 50% between 1995 and 2000.
In 1998, Amurol Products Co., a Wrigley subsidiary since 1958, introduced Everest, a high-intensity gum that, like Altoids, was packed in tins. Wrigley responded to the Altoids challenge the following year with Eclipse, a premium sugarless pellet gum, Wrigley's first new-product introduction since 1994. The $15 million ad pitch was tagged, "Die, bad breath." Eclipse rose to claim the No. 6 spot in the sugarless gum category in a little more than a year.
At the marketer's 2000 annual meeting, President-CEO Bill Wrigley Jr., the fourth generation of the family to run the company, said Wrigley was actively promoting innovation and new-product development.
In September 2002, Wrigley announced a package update for its Spearmint brand, the first in its 109-year history, backed by TV and print. At the same time, the marketer kicked off a fully integrated campaign, via BBDO, for Eclipse Flash Strips—part of $50 million earmarked for the new oral-care brand. Eclipse represented Wrigley's first U.S. introduction of a non-chewing gum product in its history
Those tradition-breaking innovations were seen as part of Mr. Wrigley's ambitious growth plans, which included an unsuccessful bid of $12.5 billion for leading confectioner Hershey Foods in September 2002.
As part of its growth initaitives, the company in late 2003 renegotiated its contract with BBDO, its agency for 70 years, looking closely at compensation and potential conflicts with BBDO client Masterfoods U.S.A.
In 2003, Wrigley also began to focus more attention on its kid-targeted brands, including Hubba Bubba, extending the brand as an umbrella for its Bubble Tape line. In 2004, Wrigley launched a $14 million TV and print campaign to support a new dual-flavored Hubba Bubba Max line and said it planned to further innovate on the line, especially as competitor Cadbury Adams signed NBA star LeBron James as the spokesman for its likewise unadvertised Bubblicious brand and Masterfoods USA entered the category with new Skittles Bubble Gum.
Wrigley also said it planned to push hard against its Orbit franchise, with $75 million in advertising slated to begin in late 2004 through 2005, $27 million of that toward its teeth whitening Orbit White. The company signed pop star Jessica Simpson to tout Liquid Ice, a new mint form of its Ice Breakers gum.