Wm. J. Wrigley Jr. Co is eliminating its North American chief marketing position. The gum giant, which is dealing with category-wide headwinds, confirmed that Brian Hansberry, the company's CMO since January 2012, is leaving the company as part of the move.
"We made the difficult decision to eliminate the CMO position for our North America business to create efficiencies," spokeswoman Caroline Sherman said in a statement to Ad Age. "It is not a decision we took lightly, and we value the contributions Brian Hansberry has made to our organization."
She said that marketing would be overseen by Casey Keller, Wrigley North America president, "along with our category leads." Mr. Keller joined Wrigley in 2011 after serving as president of the U.S. business of Alberto Culver. Previously, he held senior roles with Motorola, H.J. Heinz and Procter & Gamble.
Mr. Hansberry joined Wrigley after an 11-year stint at H.J. Heinz Co, where his roles included serving as CMO. His departure comes as Mars-owned Wrigley and other gum marketers deal with a multi-year slump caused by a range of factors including more competition from other snacks, such as mints, and less purchasing power from teens.
U.S. gum category sales dropped by 3% from 2012 to 2013, according to Euromonitor International. Wrigley's U.S. gum share increased slightly from 53% in 2012 to 53.3% last year, according to Euromonitor. The share for competitor Mondelez International, which owns Trident, dropped from 30.9% to 29.4%.
One of Wrigley's big gum bets, a caffeinated gum called Alert, was pulled from the market last year after a brief stint on store shelves. It was yanked in the face of concerns by the Food and Drug Administration.
The marketer's lead ad agency for its gum brands is Energy BBDO, Chicago.
In its advertising, Wrigley has sought to breathe some life into the category with a combination of functional and emotional messaging. The marketer's Extra brand has taken a softer tone with ads that put the gum at the center of emotional moments between a father and daughter. Meanwhile, Orbit, which is Wrigley's largest gum brand by sales, has run ads plugging the gum as a way to get that "just-brushed clean feeling" after meals.