Wrigley gives Juicy Fruit an edgier image

Online contest mixes fashion with graffiti

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GUANGZHOU--Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. has turned to the internet, street fashion and graffiti to boost the image of Juicy Fruit among Chinese teens as a fun, hip brand.

In a marketing alliance with the U.S. sneaker marketer Converse, Wrigley is hosting an online fashion-design contest that provides a platform for Juicy Fruit's core consumers to express their creativity.

The competition helps Wrigley reach out to them "in a manner and tone they are familiar with," explained Simon Holt, managing director, Greater China at Arc Worldwide in Hong Kong. The Publicis-owned marketing-services company created and supervised the campaign with assistance from its ad-agency partner Leo Burnett, WPP Group’s Mediaedge:cia media division and Bluefocus PR Consulting.

"Fun is of importance to them. Design, fashion, internet, music are all elements that form a major part of their lives," Mr. Holt said. "While the driving force in the campaign is the design competition, efforts were also taken to ensure that the brand involvement includes everyone via online voting, games, downloads, events and music channel programs."

Entries only had to be images that could be drawn on T-shirts or other clothing items and somehow incorporate two items: “fruits” and “smiles.” The competition has attracted more than 25,000 submissions and over 136,000 user registrations on the company’s Chinese website (juicyfruit.com.cn) since it was launched six weeks ago.

The top 10 winners will be announced at an awards ceremony in Beijing on July 16, and their designs will be featured that evening in a fashion show of the winning designs produced on Converse clothes. The collection will also be featured in a special edition of fashion magazine NeWay and will go on an exhibition tour in key Converse stores across seven cities over two weeks.

The contest marks the first time that Wrigley has worked with Converse, but “the two companies may develop a long term strategic partnership in China. Converse is a teen icon brand and a lot of the brands Wrigley has also target teens, so they want to work together again in the future,” said Jimmy Liang, business director at Leo Burnett, Guangzhou.

In addition to online marketing, the contest has been promoted through print media, direct marketing, events, in-store materials in 20 mainland cities as well as through Viacom’s MTV Networks. Juicy Fruit-sponsored fashion- and entertainment-programming segments are airing on MTV’s 24-hour feed in southern China as well as on syndicated MTV programming on local channels like Beijing TV.

Wrigley also received marketing support from Tencent QQ, a popular instant-messaging program and website (qq.com) in China that started months before the contest itself began.

“The whole activity is based on the insight that teens like fashion and they like graffiti. Wrigley wants to promote the trend in which kids draw on clothes as a form of fashion. But we needed to ensure there was awareness of the crossover so we used QQ’s powerful forums and chat rooms to promote the concept of drawing on outfits,” said Mr. Liang.

Wrigley enlisted four young brand ambassadors -- a pair of fashion designers, a comic book artist and a graffiti expert -- who were hip and well-known in their respective circles to inspire teens to submit their own work. But they lacked widespread fame, so in the weeks before the contest was launched, “we needed to promote them beyond their circle,” added Mr. Liang. QQ helped promote the four handpicked role models “by publishing online interviews and examples of their work.”

Although China has been the second-largest market for Wrigley behind the U.S. since 1999, that success has depended more on China’s scale than the popularity of chewing gum, which was virtually unknown in China just two decades ago.

“There is a lot of room to improve in per capita consumption in China, which is about 16 sticks per year, compared to more than 80 in Hong Kong and Taiwan and well over 100 in the U.S. Since chewing gum isn’t very expensive, there is still a lot of room to grow,” said Mr. Liang.

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