Social Breath

By Sarah Vansickle
Agency: BBDO, Chicago
Client: Wrigley's Winterfresh
Category: 2003

Scaling the Winterfresh Mountain: Inspiring a New Campaign for Teens' Fave Gum Brand. This case study shows how Planning set out from Winterfresh's familiar product attributes and capitalized on teens' constant social need for fresh breath to totally involve the teen market in a little blue stick of gum.

The Mountain to Climb: Background and Challenge The Wrigley Company launched Winterfresh gum in 1994, under the positioning \"Icy Cool Breath That Lasts.\" At the time, \"icy cool\" was a totally new way to talk about gum. Winterfresh saw unprecedented sales growth and was Wrigley's most successful product launch to date. By the late 1990s, other, more powerful icy cool gum competitors had come on the scene: both Dentyne Ice and Ice Breakers had \"Ice\" in their names; both had stronger flavors and more breath-freshening power than Winterfresh; both featured icier imagery in their advertising. How could Winterfresh, the first icy brand, compete with new entrants that had one-upped it on every aspect that Winterfresh had invented?

The Steep Incline: False Start In 2000, the team decided that Winterfresh should move away from its traditional product-attribute ad jingle and connect with teens by associating Winterfresh with an authentically cool attitude. This effort was the proverbial \"valuable learning experience\" for everyone involved. The team learned that 1) Teens won't work at all to make sense of a confusing ad, 2) It doesn't matter to teens that Winterfresh was the \"original\" icy cool brand, and 3) Winterfresh had better play a prominent, essential role in the ad to get noticed.

Taking this hard-to-swallow reprimand to heart, Planning's challenge was then to take a step back, really understand why teens love Winterfresh, (almost half of all teens chew those blue sticks!) and inspire a campaign that would capitalize on Winterfresh's true role in teen life.

At Base Camp: Figuring Out What's Cool About Winterfresh

Historical Review: From focus group reports to product testing to quantitative brand equity studies, Planning had reams of data on Winterfresh. We learned two important insights at this stage: First, Winterfresh's core competitors were playing in two slightly different zones. Based on their communications, Dentyne Ice was the brand to help you hook up with the opposite sex and Ice Breakers was the brand to give you a frozen feeling in your mouth. Secondly, there was a broad understanding that Winterfresh played some role in the arena of real-life teen sociability, where other icy brands couldn't live. It was the most popular teen gum, teens knew that \"everyone\" chewed Winterfresh, and its long-lasting breath freshening kept teens from suffering from risky bad breath in front of their friends.

Charting Teens' Chewing Habits: Using the hypothesis of Winterfresh's social role among teens, Planning recommended some deep-dive qualitative research to get at the heart of teens' reliance on Winterfresh. Hard-core chewers kept a week-long diary, charting when and why they used each stick of gum, what Winterfresh \"did\" for them, and the situation or \"scene\" they found themselves in when chewing Winterfresh. Going in, we struggled to discover what the Winterfresh \"scene\" might be. We assumed that, just like Dentyne Ice's \"hooking up\" times, there must be a specific time and place appropriate for Winterfresh. Right?

Wrong. The most important - and potentially most frightening - insight from the research was that Winterfresh was the anytime, anywhere gum that would keep teens' breath fresh for whatever social scene they were in - from hanging out with gal friends to cruising around town to meeting their crush at a movie. (Can't get much more broad than that.) We embraced this insight because 1) It was 100% true to teens'experience, 2) It built directly from Winterfresh's icy cool and long-lasting product equities in a relevant way, and 3) It was completely unique from anything our competition was doing. Thus, Winterfresh's Brand Defining Idea was born: Winterfresh = Social Breath, 24/7

Blazing a Trail: Inspiring the Creative Work The creative teams were involved through the nitty-gritty of focus group research, discussions on brand positionings, and word-niggling of the brief. We were already keeping them up-to-speed on the hottest teen trends. So, what was left for Planning to do? The challenge was to connect the dots between teen life and fresh breath: How are teens' lives affected by thoughts of their breath? When does breath really matter?Planning took three roads to connect friendship, the lifeblood of teen existence, to teen breath: First, I hit the streets to talk with real, live teens about their friends, their appearance, and how they get ready to go out with their group. A short video combined teen stories with focus group testimonials on Winterfresh's role. From the discussions with teens, we created a laundry list and mood board of situations when breath matters. And, Planning pummeled the Creatives with emails on teen friendships and rituals - anything to inspire the connection between Winterfresh and Social Breath, 24/7.

We understood why they chewed Winterfresh - but not in a clinical way. We understood because you enabled us to become them. - Gwen Dawkins, VP Creative Director/Copywriter

The result is the invention of the Winterfresh Network, a campaign that takes the insight of teens' constant, routine use of Winterfresh in every social scene imaginable, and turns it on its head, allowing teens to show their peers what having \"icy cool breath, 24/7\" means to them. Other than the introductory ads and strategic \"bookends\" on each ad, all of the spots were created by teens, for teens, and show the variety of situations in and reasons why having Winterfresh Breath really matters. Since its launch last summer, the Winterfresh Network has also introduced a new Winterfresh-branded product (Thin Ice, a breath strip), and has adapted to Internet and Grassroots contact points.

You inspired us in ways that allowed us to actually create advertising executions directly from some of these amazing insights you gave us. - Elaine Perri, VP Creative Director/Art Director

Reaching the Summit In-Market-Results of the Winterfresh Network - The Winterfresh Network campaign, now entering its second year, has impacted both teens' impressions of Winterfresh and their product usage. As a result of the Winterfresh Network, all teen consumer measures have increased for the first time in two years (Wrigley Continuous Tracking Study). Unaided Brand Awareness up +19.3 points; Unaided Ad Awareness up +18.7 points; Past Week Usage up +11.7 points; Loyalty up +3.4 points

  • The campaign has stemmed Winterfresh sales declines. Versus year-ago, total shipments are tracking up +4.8%. This equates to an additional 15.3MM 25 packs.
  • Winterfresh is now closely aligned with its core important teen benefits: Social confidence, icy-cool taste, long-lasting breath-freshening, and being cool and up-to-date (Source: Communicus Advertising Testing, December 2002 and May 2003).

  • AND, most important: Teens are totally involved in the campaign. They've sent in hundreds of videotapes and recorded thousands of radio messages to show off their icy cool Winterfresh Breath. How cool is that?