JAPAN'S GUM MARKET GETS ZING WITH STING

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TOKYO-Warner-Lambert K.K. is waking up the Japanese chewing gum market with a new caffeinated brand aimed at women called Sting.

"Wake up" gum has been a staple for long-toiling Japanese men since 1983. "It's [become] part of their lifestyle with many Japanese working hard and long hours and commuting long distances," said Robert Ehrlich, director of marketing & sales, W-L's Confectionery Division. But with the growth of women in the workforce, caffeinated gums are becoming an equal opportunity chew.

W-L is going up against No. 1 Lotte's Black Black and Super Black, in "tough and masculine" black packaging and white lettering, Mr. Ehrlich said. By contrast, Sting's female-oriented packaging, he said, is more stylishly decked in light gold-and-silver tones.

TV ads from Dai-ichi Kikaku for Sting, running since last year, use an "alien" theme. The latest 15-second spot shows two women in shining helmets and armor driving swords into the ground, noting, "Stimulation for sleepiness. Sting with caffeine crystals chewing gum."

Sales were estimated at $10 million last year, although that's still a fraction of the wake-up gum segment, pegged at 10% of the $1.2 billion chewing gum category by the Japan Confectionery Assn.

Now other gum marketers arealso chasing women. Bourbon Co. earlier this year introduced Strong Punch, while Kanebo Co. weighed in with Wakey and Ezaki Glico Co. with Kiss Mint.

But Lotte, whose ads are handled by Hakuhodo, is proceeding more cautiously. Creative Director Tetsuo Uchimoto said Lotte is still concentrating on men but is considering a shift to appeal also to women.

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