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Life is sweet for Liam Killeen and Mentos these days.

As the VP-marketing for Dutch confectioner Van Melle, the 32-year-old Irishman has presided over a change in marketing focus for the company's Mentos candies. Since 1991, shortly after Mr. Killeen arrived at Van Melle, the company dramatically shifted its marketing efforts from the trade and toward the consumer.

That has created sales gains of at least 35% in each the last five years. All of that growth, he says, was accomplished without any of the price promotion so common in the industry.

"We have no promotions, coupons," he says, and "as a consequence, all of the moneys that are usually wasted in the short term we have invested back into TV spots [to develop] a long-term base."

Quirky TV spots for Mentos, under the tagline "The Freshmaker," have even generated something of a cult following, including a list of Mentos' frequently asked questions on the Internet produced by a fan.

"It is almost as if the campaign has taken on a life of its own," Mr. Killeen says. "None of this is initiated by Van Melle."

Media advertising, supported by $13.6 million in spending last year, was created by Hamburg-based agency Pahnke. The Freshmaker campaign runs in 40 countries, Mr. Killeen says, and even though many of the ads have a European feel, "they are mainly produced in the U.S."

As a result, Van Melle-a company that once had its main factory destroyed in World War II-can savor the fastest growing non-chocolate confection in the country.

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