Orbit Gum Puts Sarah Silverman's Latest Breakup in TV Ad

Wrigley Making 'Significant' Media Investment in Marketing For Brand

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Sarah Silverman's break-up with Jimmy Kimmel a few years ago has proven to be great comedic fodder for both stars. In a new TV ad, Ms. Silverman is going for laughs after the end of an even hotter relationship: a one-night stand with a cup of coffee.

Talking Nachos in Previous Orbit Ad
Talking Nachos in Previous Orbit Ad

The ad, by Omnicom Group's Energy BBDO of Chicago, for Wrigley's Orbit, seeks to position the gum as a way to "break up with lingering food" and get that "just-brushed clean feeling." The brand has been pushing the message for a while with previous ads that also personified food, including one spot in which a man is needled by talking nachos as he tries to watch a polo match.

With Ms. Silverman, Orbit is hoping to capture more attention while also portraying the gum as a way for people to gain confidence by avoiding embarrassing bad breath in public moments.

In the spot, Ms. Silverman is pitching a TV show as the talking cup of coffee tries to creep back in her life -- with her lipstick still on its lid. A 15-second and 30-second version will run nationally on cable and primetime in the U.S. though the end of the year, according to Wm. J. Wrigley Jr. Co., which is owned by Mars. (In a tweak that only hard-core ad watchers might notice, the brand has sidelined the "Orbit Girl" character who has long appeared in ads.)

Orbit gum
Orbit gum

"We're building on the success of a global oral care campaign that has driven gum sales in international markets," Anne Marie Splitstone, Wrigley's senior gum category director, said in a statement to Ad Age. "We're now connecting the functional benefit of chewing Orbit gum for a clean mouth feeling after eating and drinking with the emotional benefit of having the confidence to do your best."

The Silverman spot comes as gum marketers continue to look for solutions to the category's long-running woes, which have been caused by competition, high unemployment among teenagers and other factors. Sugarless-gum category sales fell by 5.9% in the 52 weeks ending Jan. 26 to $2.7 billion, according to IRI. At Wrigley, which controls 55% of the category, sugarless gum sales dropped by 7.8% in the period. But sales of Orbit, which is the top-selling brand in the category, increased 7.6% to $459 million, according to IRI.

In a report last year, Credit Suisse analyst Robert Moskow stated that advertising cutbacks have played a role in the overall category decline, noting that "consumers still love gum chewing -- they just need to be reminded to do it more often."

Ms. Splitstone stated that "our overall media investment for the gum portfolio will increase significantly compared to 2013," although the company declined to elaborate by how much. In 2013, Wrigley spent $55.4 million in measured media on Orbit and $24.5 million on Extra, it's second-largest gum, according to Kantar Media.

But as Wrigley hikes its investment on Orbit, it must deal with new marketing from Trident, which is owned by Mondelez International.

Trident ranks second in the category but has gained some ground on Orbit with sales of its core variety growing by 13.6% in the year ending Jan. 26 to $432.5 million, according to IRI. Trident's new approach has been to talk about the functional benefits of gum (just like Orbit), as it moves away from more emotional messaging.

In doing so, Trident has remade an ad that originally aired in the 2003 Super Bowl that took a humorous look at the classic line that "four out of five dentists surveyed would recommend Trident to their patients who chew gum."

The new ad, which debuted earlier this month, was created by The Escape Pod, Chicago, which is working on Trident on a project basis. Trident also continues to work with Wieden & Kennedy, a Mondelez spokeswoman confirmed.

The updated ad, which debuted earlier this month, is remarkably similar to the original spot, which was created by J. Walter Thompson, New York.

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