In 1891, 29-year-old William Wrigley Jr., a man who would create a chewing gum empire, came to Chicago from Philadelphia with $32 in his pocket and an idea to sell soap.
His gum empire bubbled up from a simple marketing strategy of offering premiums with each soap purchase. In a somewhat comical series of events, each premium item Wrigley offered ended up being more popular than his main product.
First he switched from selling soap to focusing on selling baking powder, then — when customers loved the sticks of chewing gum he offered with the baking powder — he switched his attention to gum. It turned out to be a billion-dollar decision.
In 1893, Wrigley introduced Juicy Fruit Gum, which was followed by Spearmint Gum. Behind aggressive direct marketing and large-scale advertising campaigns, Wrigley Gum was soon recognized the world over.
Hundreds of amazing examples of Wrigley’s advertising selected from the company’s archives — all from a single-owner collection — head to auction March 30 at Lyn Knight Auctions, Overland Park, Kansas.
Early advertising fans will have plenty to chew on. Brands in the collection include Juicy Fruit, Spearmint, Doublemint (introduced in 1914) and Orbit (launched in 1899), as well as less well-known items such as Pepsin Gum, Lik-Ris Gum, PK Gum (named for Wrigley’s son Philip K. Wrigley), and Sweet Sixteen varieties. Also included are gum items relating to Bell Telephone, the National Recovery Administration, and Kentucky Mint (for the Kentucky Derby). Everything from box labels, wrappers and other advertising items from many world markets are included for each brand.
Virtually every item offered is from pre-1950s designs, the earliest of which is from 1905.
The Lyn Knight Auctions consignor, who had been collecting advertising materials for more than a half-century, had access to Wrigley archives. He acquired larger, graphically pleasing items of historical importance. His well-cared-for collection presents a wonderful overview of Wrigley’s impressive advertising strategy.
For more information on the online auction March 30, call Lyn Knight Auctions at 913-338-3779; email firstname.lastname@example.org; or visit www.lynknight.com.