By Arun Sudhaman
CHICAGO: Confectionary giant Wrigley is pitching a lucrative global PR assignment to build the health and wellness credentials of its chewing gum brands, amid increasing regulatory scrutiny of food products.
In one of the year’s biggest account reviews, the Mars subsidiary is seeking a global agency to build credibility and improve awareness of its 20-year-old ‘Benefits of Chewing’ (BoC) programme, a critical initiative for a company that makes the vast majority of its $5 billion-plus revenues from chewing gum.
According to a copy of the RFP seen by the Holmes Report, Wrigley has set the budget for the programme at $1 million to $3 million, but also notes that this could rise. “Please don’t let this limit your thinking,” reads the RFP, which is issued by Wrigley’s worldwide procurement team in Chicago. “If there is a great idea, we will try to find the funding.”
Since 2003, Wrigley has upped the focus on its BoC effort – establishing the Wrigley Science Institute in 2005 to credibly investigate the scientific links between chewing gum and four health benefits: oral health; weight management; stress relief; and focus, concentration and alertness.
It is understood that the PR activity accompanying the programme has previously been spread across multiple agencies and markets. According to the RFP, the company is now seeking an agency to take the effort to the “next level” by building credibility with influencers, improving “believability” and growing the category.
“Wrigley is combining some related areas of activity and we think it makes sense to move to a single global agency to support these areas instead of using multiple agencies, as has been the case in the past,” said Wrigley EU director of corporate affairs, Kristen Kinkella.
The RFP points out that the BoC programme has not been without challenges. Specifically, it notes that scrutiny of industry-funded research surrounding health and food products has continued to escalate. “In addition, policy makers also continue to seek ways of distinguishing between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ foods through a range of initiatives.”
It is understood that the BoC programme has helped Wrigley defend against negative media perceptions of its chewing gum brands and, in some cases, prevent their removal from the front end of retail chains. Key brands include Orbit, Extra and Freedent.
The RFP does not include consumer outreach, which will be handled by regional marketing and brand teams. Instead Wrigley is targeting three groups of professionals and their related influencers: oral care; weight management; and focus/concentration and stress relief.
The global initiative is also expected to build awareness among internal stakeholders and enable regional marketing and corporate affairs teams to execute locally. The PR component is overseen by Wrigley’s global corporate affairs team, led by Andy Pharoah.
The RFP is for agencies that have already been shortlisted following an initial RFI. Agencies are due to provide final proposals this week before pitching at Wrigley’s Chicago HQ in December.