Wrigley Integrates Extra Gum Into 'Biggest Loser'

Positions Brand as Snack Alternative in Bid to Get More People to Chew Than Chow Down

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CHICAGO -- Along with the usual tears, drama and challenges, the contestants on this season's "Biggest Loser" will be encouraged to chew their way to sleeker selves.

Wrigley's integration of Extra into 'Biggest Loser' is aligned with a larger effort by the marketer called the Walk and Chew Gum Challenge.

Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. has integrated its Extra chewing-gum brand into four episodes of the NBC weight-loss reality series and sponsored one of the show's challenges, giving the gum-and-snacks marketer placement on four shows. Wrigley also made an ad buy as part of the arrangement.

Targeted messaging
"For this program it was essential to have some targeted messaging," said David Freeman, managing director of Matter, an Edelman entertainment company. His team put the buy together. "We believed that a message integrated with a great product placement was essential to the success of this program and to have 'Biggest Loser' trainers deliver this message was great for us from a brand perspective."

Mr. Freeman had worked previously with the show, and pitched the product integration to his Edelman counterparts, who were already working for Wrigley.

"They were looking for a big idea," Mr. Freeman said of the client.

The result is four episodes, three product placements and one Wrigley-branded challenge. The first integration, which aired Sept. 11, promoted Wrigley as a great alternative to a snack. The next integration, airing Oct. 16, will mention that chewing gum is a way to keep from eating too much while cooking. The last two Wrigley-integrated episodes will air Nov. 20 and 27.

Wrigley was drawn to "Biggest Loser" for the emotional connection it makes with its 8 million viewers.

"Today's marketplace is full of consumer choice and Wrigley is committed to finding fresh, engaging ways to connect with chewers," Kelly McGrail, senior director of corporate communication, wrote in an e-mail. "'Biggest Loser' is a powerful emotional journey taken by contestants and is a stage to showcase Extra chewing gum as a tool for all viewers trying to achieve their diet and weight-management goals."

Weight-loss challenge
To keep up the pace, Wrigley is combining its "Biggest Loser" efforts with a Walk and Chew Gum Challenge, collectively encouraging Americans to walk 100,000 miles and cut 10 million calories by chewing gum. Consumers sign on through a Wrigley website, pledge to walk 2,000 steps each day and to replace high-calorie snacks with sugar-free Extra gum. Participants report on their progress along the way and are entered into a one-week makeover session with a personal trainer and chef, a free one-year gym membership, and a year's supply of Extra.

Wrigley supports its dietetic claims through research that's been done at the Wrigley Science Institute. Wrigley maintains that chewing gum can not only help consumers cut calories, but also stay more alert.

While nutritionists agree it's good to cut unnecessary calories, it's important to remember that snacking can be healthful, too.

Dawn Jackson Blatner, a registered dietician and spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, said she recommends gum for "mindless munchers," people who eat while watching TV, taste too much while cooking or nibble on leftovers before putting them back in the fridge. But snacking can be important.

"Snacking is part of a healthy diet, a handful of nuts, yogurt or a piece of fruit do add great nutrition in your diet," Ms. Blatner said. "It would be worrisome to me to have people thinking they shouldn't snack, but should chew gum."

Besides, she said, if it's been five hours since your last meal, you probably are really hungry and chewing on a piece of gum isn't going to help.

Mr. Freeman said the response to the first integration has been positive, and while there are no new integrations ready to announce, he said that "we hope to maintain our relationship with the 'Biggest Loser' in the future."
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