William Wrigley

Perhaps one of the most famous names in the gum industry is William Wrigley.  Wrigley was the son of a soap salesman from Philadelphia, and at the age of thirteen, he was also selling soap.  At the age of 30, he moved to Chicago to open a new branch of his father’s company and came up with an idea to provide “premiums” to vendors who purchased a certain amount of soap.  These premiums included baking powder, cookbooks, and umbrellas. 14.  The baking powder sales surpassed the popularity of the soap, so Wrigley made that his primary product and offered gum as a premium, the very same development from John Curtis.  Once again, the premium’s popularity surpassed that of the product, and Wrigley entered the gum industry.  Wrigley hired the Zero Gum Company to manufacture gum for him, and it was here that the Wrigley’s industry started.  He introduced a series of branded gums in 1983, including Juicy Fruit and Spearmint.  In 1898, he founded William Wrigley Jr. Company. 15.  

William Wrigley Jr.

While this type of industry-making is nothing new or special, what set Wrigley apart from his competitors, including the Adams company, was his marketing and advertising.  Wrigley is famously quoted as saying, “Anyone can make gum. The trick is to sell it.”16.  And sell it he did.  Wrigley began by doing a modest advertising campaign in 1906 in Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse, with successful results.  The campaign then evolved to massive billboards, placards in streetcars and subways, and one of the first electric signs, including a massive one in Times Square (the electricity bill of which was an annual $100,000).  The billboards then evolved to a linked line of 117 signs along the railroad between Atlantic City and Trenton, New Jersey advertising Wrigley’s Spearmint.  Between 1915 and 1917, Wrigley sent free samples of gum to everyone with a telephone book, a total of more than 8.5 million, and in another campaign, every child received two sticks of gum when they turned two, reaching 750,000 children. 17.  A brand-recognition study in the 1920s found that 65% of people listed Wrigley as their “top-of-mind” choice for chewing gum, while the nearest competitor scored only 10%. 18.  Wrigley’s advertising campaigns were what truly made gum popular throughout the country and a billion dollar industry.

For the advertisements and images that Wrigley and other marketers used, see the Advertisements section from the above menu bar.

Comments are closed.