Launched in 1893, Juicy Fruit is Wrigley's oldest gum brand. But in recent years, the marketer has spent next to nothing advertising the classic brand, opting instead to invest behind its portfolio of sugar-free products like Extra and Orbit.
That's about to change. Beginning this week, Juicy Fruit is returning to TV for the first time since 2009. The campaign, which broke Jan. 12, includes two spots called "Armpit" (above) and "Zipper" (below) that deploy fart noises and other nonverbal antics meant to position the gum for fun. The message is that the gum is "so sweet" that "you can't help but chew." One of the spots plugs Juicy Fruit's new Starburst-co branded flavor that recently began hitting stores. Starburst is also owned by Wm. J. Wrigley Jr., which in turn is owned by Mars Inc.
"One of the key reasons to chew gum is fun, and there is no better brand than Juicy Fruit to really drive that fun message and that fun relevance to consumers," said John Starkey, Wrigley's VP of U.S. gum and mints. He declined to detail spending on the new campaign, but said "this is a very important campaign launch for us and we are supporting this in a significant way because of the opportunity that exists to really re-ignite fun within the category."
Notably, the campaign is by DDB Chicago, not Energy BBDO, Chicago, which has handled most of Wrigley's recent gum work, including for Extra and Orbit. A Wrigley spokeswoman said that "both Energy BBDO and DDB Worldwide have done work for Juicy Fruit in the past. For this U.S. campaign, we chose to partner with DDB Chicago." An Energy BBDO spokeswoman declined to comment.
Wrigley spent no measured media on Juicy Fruit in 2012 and 2013 and only $4.1 million on the brand in the first 10 months of 2014, according to the latest estimates from Kantar Media. Orbit, by contrast, got $54.9 million in support in 2013 and $34.5 million from January through October last year.
The Juicy Fruit campaign comes as Juicy Fruit begins to show signs of a resurgence. Sales of the leading Juicy Fruit variety grew 10.9% in the 52 weeks ending Nov. 30 to $62.3 million, according to IRI. The gum outpaced the overall regular gum category, where sales fell by 2% in the period.
The regular gum category, at $510.6 million in sales, remains much smaller than the sugarless segment, which had $2.6 billion in sales in the period. But regular gum outperformed sugarless, whose sales dropped by 3.44%, according to IRI.
Matthew Hudak, who covers the candy industry for Euromonitor International, said the trend is similar to patterns emerging in other categories, such as soda, where diet brands are starting to lag full-calorie versions. Consumers are "willing to indulge, but if they are going to indulge they want it to be something good," he said.
Juicy Fruit sells several sugar-free versions, including a variety in pellet form and a gum called Juicy Fruit Fruity Chews. The new Starburst flavor is also sugar free. But the brand's largest seller remains its core regular gum, according to IRI.
The Juicy Fruit/Starburst line extension follows a co-branded gum launch by Wrigley competitor Mondelez International, which recently began selling Sour Patch Kids gum co-branded with the Stride gum name.