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JUICY FRUIT GUM sugars the message to regain the interest of teens.

The Memo

Juicy Fruit Gum, the oldest brand of the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company, wasn't chewing up the teen market, gum's top demographic. In 1997, the company found itself under pressure from competitors. Sales and market share were down. How could Wrigley make more kids chomp on Juicy Fruit?

The Discovery

What qualities about Juicy Fruit appeal to teens? Wrigley went to the source to find out. It found kids who chew five sticks or more of Juicy Fruit each week and promptly gave them a homework assignment: Find pictures that reminded them of the gum and write a short story about it. From the focus groups, Wrigley learned that teens chew Juicy Fruit because it's sweet. It refreshes and energizes them. Quantitative research by ad agency BBDO confirmed what the teens were saying. BBDO asked more than 400 heavy gum chewers to rate various brands by attributes that best represented them. For Juicy Fruit, respondents picked phrases such as "has the right amount of sweetness" and "is made with natural sweeteners."

Another study by BBDO looked into why teens chew gum. Was it because they're stressed out - or because they forgot to brush their teeth before going to school? Nearly three out of four kids said they stick a wad in their mouth when they crave something sweet. And Juicy Fruit was the top brand they chose to fulfill that need (Big Red was a distant second). Clearly, the advertising needed to focus on the gum's sweet, satisfying qualities.

The Tactics

Media-savvy kids can easily burst a marketer's bubble, so Wrigley and BBDO first identified which ad elements attracted teens. Through BBDO's own teen advertising study, plus syndicated data from Teenage Research Unlimited, several points emerged: Kids liked ads that were funny, cool, original, and said something meaningful about the product. With this in mind, BBDO cool-meisters worked up three potential campaigns for Juicy Fruit and showed them to teens. The "Gotta Have Sweet" campaign scored the highest marks. Kids liked the storyline and its humor (one spot featured toys that come to life and rescue a pack of Juicy Fruit from an evil bird).

BBDO developed four TV commercials with the "Gotta Have Sweet" theme and asked teen focus groups to evaluate them. The idea that Juicy Fruit satisfies a craving for something sugary went over well with respondents. "It's sweet. They're trying to hit this into your head," said one participant. Copy testing of two spots also proved that BBDO was on target: Roughly 70 percent of respondents voluntarily recalled the Juicy Fruit name after watching the commercials (the average recall for a brand of sugar gum is 57 percent).

The campaign debuted in August 1998 with an assortment of radio and TV spots geared to 12-to-24-year-olds. BBDO also created Juicy Fruit bookcovers to tie into the back-to-school season. One design featured a cheerleader lifting a car to find a pack of Juicy Fruit.

The Payoff

Sales of 100-stick boxes of Juicy Fruit rose 5 percent after the start of the ad campaign, versus a 2 percent decline prior to it. Juicy Fruit's market share also increased to 5.3 percent from 4.9 percent, the biggest gain of any established chewing gum brand during the year following the campaign. And the "Gotta Have Sweet" tagline stuck with gum chewers aged 10 to 24: 43 percent of respondents in a phone survey associated the phrase with Juicy Fruit one year after the ads began.

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