Jacobs hopes Simpson can turn Ice to gold at Hershey

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Andy Jacobs' colleagues at Hershey Foods Corp. think he's in love with Jessica Simpson. And in fact, the 37-year-old director of marketing for Hershey's gum and mints division-while happily married with two children-admits to having a passion for the pop star. But, he says, his love is really for what he thinks "today's `It Girl"' can do for the launch of Ice Breakers Liquid Ice.

Liquid Ice is the first national entry into the liquid-filled strong-mint arena, and Mr. Jacobs adamantly believes it will be the next wave in a highly competitive $600 million category.

As excited as Mr. Jacobs is about Ms. Simpson, who is the centerpiece of an integrated campaign for Liquid Ice that includes TV, radio and sponsorship of her 35-city tour, he is equally, if not more, enthusiastic about the product itself. His close work with confectioners' research-and-development teams during the past 12 years is evident as he tears apart a piece of Ice Breakers gum searching for the microscopic oil capsules on which Liquid Ice (simply a larger form of the capsules) is based.

"We were the pioneer of capsule technology within stick gum and we've leveraged that into a new form that will be the next evolution of breath mints, taking breath strips to the next level," Mr. Jacobs said.

And that, of course, is why he was hired. Most recently director of marketing for packaged confections and new product development at Brach's Confections, Mr. Jacobs was brought to Hershey eight months ago to develop just such big ideas for the gum and mints division. The division makes up over 5% of Hershey's business but has big rivals in Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. and Cadbury Adams, rivals Mr. Jacobs has been challenged to take on and win. Liquid Ice, an extension of the Ice Breakers brand, will go up against Kraft Foods' Altoids, Wrigley's Eclipse Flash Strips, and Listerine's Pocket Paks.

big ideas

"Andy is a top-flight marketer with big ideas for building our brands," said Mike Wege, VP-portfolio brands at Hershey, who commended Mr. Jacobs' "tremendous energy, creativity and commitment to results."

Formidable rivals seem only to energize Mr. Jacobs. "We can compete and win ... by driving innovation across product form, packaging innovation and marketing programs," he said.

And finding the platforms for such innovation certainly does not happen when sitting at a desk in Hershey, Pa., Mr. Jacobs believes. In 12 years of confection marketing, first at [now Kraft Foods owned] Nabisco in the LifeSavers Confection group, then Brach's, he has traveled the world looking for inspiration. Liquid Ice's unique package dispenser, for example, is a combination of plastic from Thailand and a mold made in China and the capsules themselves are manufactured in Japan.

Mr. Jacobs is not quite as schooled in the second part of the success formula, the consumer-marketing piece, as his Brach's experience offered more opportunity to work directly with retail customers developing new products and platforms specifically for them.

But, with Hershey's sales teams handling retail customers, Mr. Jacobs is relishing every moment of developing the "big idea that can communicate that technology to consumers." In the ads, Ms. Simpson delivers a version of her trademark chicken/fish question in the tagline, "Is it liquid or is it ice?" The theme will be carried across TV and radio and supported with sampling at her Reality tour and in thousands of music retail stores, college campuses and even on coffee sleeves in convenience stores.

It doesn't hurt Mr. Jacobs' enthusiasm that the "big idea" happens to also be blonde and beautiful.


Name: Andy Jacobs

Age: 37

Now: Director-marketing, gum and mints, Hershey Foods Corp.

Who: Twelve-year veteran of new product development at several confection companies, including Brach's and Nabisco. He's traveled as far as China, Thailand and Japan to explore materials for new packaging.

Challenge: To compete and win in gum and mints by driving innovation across product form, packaging innovation and marketing programs.

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