When pharmaceutical company Pfizer Inc. bought its competitor Warner-Lambert Company in 2000, it also acquired its Adams confectionary division and its gum brands Trident, Dentyne, and Chiclets. At the time, sugarless chewing-gum brands were taking the lead in retail gum sales as health-conscious consumers chose alternatives to sugary treats. In 2003 total sales of sugarless gum sales were $578.5 million, while sugared gum achieved $309.3 million in total sales. The top market position that year was held by Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company’s brand Extra, with a 26 percent dollar share. Wrigley’s Eclipse, with a 16 percent dollar share, held the number two spot. Number three was Pfizer’s Trident, with sales of $82.6 million and a 14.8 percent dollar share. To help Pfizer drive sales of Trident, ad agency J. Walter Thompson created a new marketing campaign for the brand that was based on Trident’s 30-year-old claim that it was recommended by four out of five dentists to their patients who chewed gum. The campaign, which was limited to television, put a humorous spin on the answer to the question of why the fifth dentist did not recommend Trident. ‘‘Four Out of Five Dentists’’ spots began airing in January 2003. A month later Pfizer sold its Adams division, including the Trident brand, to London-based company Cadbury Schweppes. Cadbury Schweppes created an American subsidiary called Cadbury Adams and continued the ‘‘Four Out of Five Dentists’’ campaign through early 2005. Specific spending figures for the campaign were unavailable, but a report in Adweek noted that Cadbury spent approximately $5 to $10 million advertising the Trident brand in 2003.
The Trident television spot ‘‘Squirrel’’ earned accolades from the industry, including a mention on Adweek’s Best Spots list. Not all comments about the Trident commercials were positive, however. An article in Advertising Age questioned whether consumers under 35 years old—the brand’s target audience—would get the reference to the old slogan. Some consumers also complained that the ‘‘Ride’’ spot, which showed the fifth dentist falling off a roller coaster, was in bad taste.
In 1899 a collaboration between Thomas Adams, Edward Beeman, and William White resulted in the founding of the American Chicle Group and the creation of chewing-gum brands such as Chiclets. In 1916 the company introduced the first gum touted as having oralhygiene benefits: Dentyne. Following concerns expressed by consumers about the effects of sugar on their dental health, the company introduced Trident, a sugarless gum, in 1964. Warner-Lambert Company, a pharmaceutical manufacturer, acquired the American Chicle Group in 1962; three decades later Warner-Lambert changed the name of its U.S. confectionary division from American Chicle Group to Adams.
In 2000, following a three-month takeover battle, pharmaceutical giant Pfizer bought the Warner-Lambert Company for $90 billion. Referring to the Adams segment as a ‘‘noncore’’ business, Pfizer sold it to Cadbury Schweppes in February 2003 for $4.2 billion. Just weeks prior to the sale, Pfizer launched Trident gum’s ‘‘Four Out of Five Dentists’’ campaign. After the acquisition Cadbury Adams USA LLC was created as a U.S. subsidiary of London-based Cadbury Schweppes. Among the new subsidiary’s products were the gum brands Chiclets, Dentyne, and Trident, the mint brands Clorets and Certs, and Halls cough drops. Cadbury Adams also handled the historical gum brands that carried the names of American Chicle Group’s founders Thomas Adams and Edward Beeman: Adams Blackjack and Beeman’s. Despite the change in company ownership, the ‘‘Four Out of Five Dentists’’ campaign for Trident gum was continued by Cadbury Adams through March 2005.
Trident gum’s ‘‘Four Out of Five Dentists’’ campaign targeted consumers in the 18- to 34-year-old demographic.
According to the company, this group linked Trident gum with dental-health benefits (because it was sugarless it did not cause cavities) but often did not associate it with other health issues. The purpose of the new campaign was to stress the relevance of Trident sugarless gum in consumers’ lives, not only as a means of preventing cavities but also to help with other health concerns. Based on information released by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 44 million Americans were considered obese in 2001, and 16.7 million were diagnosed with diabetes that year. Further, in 2003 the National Center for Health Statistics reported that the rate of obesity in kids aged 6 to 11 years old had quadrupled in the past 25 years. Research indicated that increased consumption of sugar by Americans of all ages was a contributing factor to the rising rate of obesity and related health complications such as diabetes.
Since the introduction of its Juicy Fruit chewing gum in 1893, the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company had held the top spot in sales of gum in the United States. But the company had been slow to jump into the sugarless-gum market. That changed in 1984, when Wrigley introduced its first sugarless brand, Extra, which by 1989 had become the country’s best-selling sugar-free gum. It added Eclipse sugarless gum to its U.S. product line in 1999. Playing on the success of Extra and the growing popularity of sugarless gum, in 2001 Wrigley introduced another such product, Orbit, to American consumers. In 2003 the Extra brand held the number one spot with U.S. sales of $141 million. That year Eclipse was the number two sugarless gum, and Orbit followed in the number five spot with sales of $60.9 million. To help boost Orbit’s sales and push it closer to the number three brand, Cadbury Adams’ Trident, Wrigley launched an advertising campaign that poked fun at its competitor. The campaign, which began in February 2003, compared Orbit to ‘‘Brand T’’ gum, a product that resembled competitor Trident. Orbit advertisements also made fun of Trident’s ‘‘Four out of five dentists recommend’’ claim. The Orbit ads featured an attractive spokeswoman with a British accent who showed what happened when a construction worker switched from ‘‘Brand T’’ to Orbit. After giving the man a kiss, the spokeswoman said, ‘‘Orbit cleans another dirty mouth. That’s why four out of five construction workers prefer the good clean feeling of Orbit, no matter what.’’
Although the Hershey Company was best known for chocolate confections, such as its famous Hershey’s Kisses, in 2000 the iconic chocolatier joined the gum market with the acquisition of Nabisco Holdings Corp.’s gum and mint business. The $135 million deal included Nabisco’s Ice Breaker sugarless gum. In 2002 it appeared that Hershey itself would be sold, with potential buyers that included competitors Cadbury Schweppes and Wrigley. In late 2002 Hershey rejected a $12 billion bid made by Wrigley, and changes to the controlling Hershey Trust Board membership resulted in the company no longer being for sale. To enhance its gum brand and reach a wider segment of consumers, in 2002 Hershey expanded its Ice Breaker brand to include Unleashed, which targeted Generation Y youths, or kids 16 to 24 years old. Ice Breaker added a breath-freshening flavor, Spearmint, in 2003. The brand was ranked number six in 2003, behind Wrigley’s Orbit.
ORIGINATOR OF TRIDENT’S ‘‘FOUR OUT OF FIVE DENTIST’’ CLAIM DIES
Longtime advertising executive Henry Kornhauser died on September 14, 2005. He was 73 years old. While working as an account executive for the Trident sugarless gum brand in the mid-1960s, Kornhauser provided the information that led to Trident’s marketing claim that ‘‘Four Out of Five Dentists’’ recommended the product to their patients who chewed gum. Kornhauser began his career in the mail room of New York–based Katz Agency and eventually became an executive at ad agencies that included the well-known Cunningham & Walsh. During the 1970s he served as president of Dusenberry Ruriani & Kornhauser and then of Clyne Dusenberry and Kornhauser & Calene. Another famous slogan he helped create was Black Flag Roach Motel’s ‘‘Roaches check in, but they don’t check out.’’
In 2003 Adams, owned at the time by pharmaceutical company Pfizer, decided to break into the club of Super Bowl advertisers with a commercial for its Trident brand chewing gum. The company’s ad agency, J. Walter Thompson, created a television spot that would stand out among the Super Bowl commercials that promoted everything from beer and soft drinks to tax preparers and athletic shoes. J. Walter Thompson created a spot that played on Trident’s long-running tagline, ‘‘Four out of five dentists recommend.’’ It used humor to answer the question that was raised by the tagline: Why did dentist number five not recommend the gum to his or her patients? The campaign was limited to television and included three spots.
The first of the three spots, which made its debut during Super Bowl XXXVII, was titled ‘‘Squirrel.’’ It depicted a panel of five dentists sitting at a table, while a voice-over asked, ‘‘Four out of five dentists surveyed recommend Trident for patients who chew gum. But what about the fifth dentist?’’ The camera focused on the first four dentists as each one responded, ‘‘Yes.’’ As the fifth dentist prepared to answer the question, a squirrel that had made its way into the room through an open window ran up the hapless dentist’s pant leg. There was a loud crunching noise as the squirrel chomped onto one of the dentist’s body parts, which was followed by the man screaming in pain, ‘‘No.’’ The voice-over concluded:
‘‘One thing’s for sure. Long-lasting Trident is good for teeth.’’
A second television spot was released in mid-January as a follow-up to the Super Bowl spot. Titled ‘‘Fly,’’ it showed the panel of dentists again sitting at a table, but in front of each was a box with two buttons, one green and labeled ‘‘Yes,’’ and one red and labeled ‘‘No.’’ The voice-over asked the same question about the fifth dentist as in the ‘‘Squirrel’’ spot, but rather than verbally responding ‘‘Yes’’ to the question, each of the first four dentists pressed the green button, and the word ‘‘Yes’’ lit up. As the fifth dentist prepared to respond by pressing one of the buttons, a fly buzzed into the room and landed on his forehead. The dentist sitting beside him smacked the fly with a clipboard, knocking dentist number five unconscious; he fell forward, landing on the red button and lighting up the word ‘‘No.’’ The voice-over again concluded with the statement ‘‘There are many theories, but one thing’s for sure. Long-lasting Trident is good for teeth.’’
The final spot, ‘‘Ride,’’ was created to support the launch of Trident’s Cool Rush flavor variety, which was introduced in 2003. In this commercial the five dentists were shown riding a roller coaster at an amusement park. Following the same format used in the ‘‘Squirrel’’ and ‘‘Fly’’ commercials, before the unfortunate fifth dentist could respond to the question, the safety bar on his roller coaster car failed to swing all the way around, and he toppled out of the seat when the ride inverted.
The humor of the spots, particularly ‘‘Squirrel,’’ appealed to both consumers and the advertising industry. The spot earned recognition as one of Adweek magazine’s 50 Best Spots of 2003. Finally providing an answer to the long-running question of why the fifth dentist did not recommend Trident to patients who chewed gum added to the interest. In his ratings of the Super Bowl commercials, ESPN.com columnist Eric Neel gave the ‘‘Squirrel’’ spot an Honorable Mention. On the other hand, whileAdvertising Age columnist Bob Garfield described the spot as ‘‘cute,’’ he also voiced doubts about the effectiveness of the campaign’s central joke: ‘‘Will anyone under 35 remember the old ‘four-out-of-five dentists’ claim?’’ Some consumers criticized the ‘‘Ride’’ spot, stating that it was in bad taste given the number of real amusementpark accidents related to roller coasters. The campaign’s television spots ran through March 2005. In May of that year Trident launched a new campaign, ‘‘Little Mouth,’’ which featured a set of animated false teeth caught in dangerous situations, such as falling into a cup of coffee and nearly drowning. In each spot the teeth were rescued by a pack of Trident sugarless gum, and the new tagline stated, ‘‘A mouth’s best friend.’’