As stated before, the advertising of gum is what has truly made it a favorite American product. It all began with the efforts of William Wrigley. In such endeavors as the billboards along the railroad or the free samples of gum to everyone in the telephone book, Wrigley arguably created and responded to a demand for gum. Wrigley advertising campaigns set the precedent for following campaigns, such as the billboard in Times Square. Wrigley was also one of the first to create an “ad creature,” a mascot for his company—the Spearman. The Spearman was popularly used in the advertisements beginning in the 1910s. 22. The name was modeled after the flavor of gum that Wrigley’s introduced, Spearmint, and looked like a pointy-tipped spearmint leaf with a smiling face. Much like Tony the Tiger or the Trix Rabbit, the Spearman was seen in all advertisements and instantly recognizable to the Wrigley’s name. Also popular was using Mother Goose rhymes altered to promote the Wrigley brand. For example, printed in a 1917 promotional booklet was this rhyme:
Little Miss Muffet-Spear
Sat on a tuffet-queer
Eating her curds and whey,
And when I espied her
With WRIGLEY’S beside her
I knew she was happy that day!23.
What is most remarkable about gum advertising campaigns is the creation of a meaning for gum. It was viewed in society as distasteful and impolite, and advertisers had to work to change this. Gum was increasingly advertised as a pick-me-up, something that would make the day go by faster. It was for the tired and the nervous. Some ads even directly appealed to housewives (see below for a page from a magazine ad), suggesting that gum would make her job smoother and faster. Doctors all praised the effects of chewing gum. Medically, it was suggested for soothing throats and mouths, helping digestion, and even quenching thirst. It would promote weight loss, slow tooth decay, and a whole host of other benefits. 24. All these can be seen in the print and video advertisements that Wrigley and other companies made.
In more recent advertisements, the focus is on strong, bright healthy teeth. Less do we see the Spearman in the advertisements, but we do see creative and eye-catching material that is meant to attract a consumer to the product.
Explore the print ads and video commercials used to advertise gum, ranging from the 1910s to present day.
The Clark’s Teaberry Gum Commercial has a jingle and dance attached to it. The tune and suggestion that the gum is a pick-me-up market Clark’s as the choice for flavor and energy.
The following four advertisements are prints from magazines that suggest that Wrigley’s preserves teeth, helps digestion, and makes work go by faster. With the mention of work, the advertisement appeals directly towards housewives, while the rhyme print appeals towards kids. Throughout all of these but one earlier one, the Spearman is prominently displayed in the graphic. Not only is the Wrigley’s name visible and constantly mentioned, but the visual ad critter is a non-verbal method of connecting the print to Wrigley’s.
The commercial that follows is from the 1960s suggests that Wrigley’s Doublemint Gum makes the chewer happier and energetic. Notice that the ad critter has evolved but is still present.
The Hubba Bubba commercial not only appeals to the obsession with western movies that occurred in the 1970s, but also appeals to gum chewers that the bubble won’t stick to one’s face.
Some more recent advertisements include the following commercial and prints. Many of the same effects of chewing gum are advertised, especially strong and healthy teeth. Also, the jingle has not left the advertising scene, as with the Chris Brown commercial. The song in the commercial became a popular song apart from Wrigley’s gum, and Chris Brown’s famousness also made the commercial popular. The message is much the same as the commercial from the 1960s—that chewing Wrigley’s gum will put you in a better mood.