Leadership, Innovation & Integrity
Today, the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company is a global organization with operations in more than 50 nations, distributing products to more than 180 countries. Its heritage is filled with stories of leadership, innovation, and integrity, but its origins begin over a century ago when a Chicago businessman decided to offer his customers a little “something for nothing.”
In 1891, William Wrigley Jr. came to Chicago with $32 in his pocket and a check from his uncle for $5,000 to start a new business.
A Bold Entrepreneur
The year was 1891, and the businessman was William Wrigley Jr. Born in Philadelphia, Wrigley Jr. had moved to Chicago and was selling necessities like soap and baking powder, when he noticed a rather curious trend: The sticks of gum he was giving away for free as incentives were proving more popular than the merchandise itself.
A born entrepreneur with a knack for identifying opportunities where others only saw risk, Wrigley Jr. quickly directed his prodigious energies toward producing his own line of gums. One of his first aims was to combat the lingering stereotype that only women should chew gum. Two of the company’s earliest products — Sweet Sixteen Orange and Lotta Gum —revolutionized chewing gum’s appeal, spreading interest to the youth market and then to the public at large.
In 1893, during an economic depression, he introduced two brands that would become company icons: Wrigley’s Spearmint® and Juicy Fruit®. And when an even more debilitating economic downturn arrived in 1907, Wrigley did the unthinkable, mortgaging everything he owned to launch a massive advertising campaign, a move that skyrocketed the company into national prominence and set the stage for the company’s future groundbreaking advertising strategies.
A Legacy of Business Leadership
During his company’s meteoric rise, Wrigley Jr. established himself as one of the nation’s leading champions of employee rights and benefits, creating a health and welfare department in Wrigley’s Chicago factory in 1916 and granting his employees both Saturdays and Sundays off in 1924. During the Great Depression, the company went one step further, boldly setting minimum wage levels so its workers could have financial security during one of the nation’s darkest hours.
Wrigley employees during the early 20th century enjoyed benefits available to few other contemporary factory workers.
Wrigley Jr. is also remembered as the father of modern advertising, coining the familiar maxim “Tell ’em quick and tell ’em often.” In 1915, he organized the first-ever nationwide direct marketing campaign, shipping sticks of gum to every address listed in U.S. phone books. But it was Wrigley Jr.’s son Philip, named company president in 1925, who artfully expanded the company’s reach even further by sponsoring radio programs and pioneering the placement of ads in the “funny pages” of newspapers.
From 1932 to 1962, the company would harness the clean air-brushed style of artist Otis Shepard to illustrate the iconic Doublemint Twins and immortal “Remember This Wrapper” World War II ads, influencing the look and feel of product advertisements for generations to come.
Seeking New Opportunities
During World War II, when Wrigley was cut off from its supply of ingredients, it halted production of its flagship brands rather than compromise on their quality, reserving its established products for soldiers fighting overseas while introducing a wartime substitute named Orbit® at home.
After World War II, as Wrigley botanists scoured the Amazon for new ingredients, the company introduced new brands, including Big Red® and Freedent®, while pursuing the opportunity for international expansion. The company opened new production facilities in nine countries between 1960 and 2000, including China, which now ranks second only to the U.S. in product sales. And in 1989, Wrigley was one of the first companies to begin marketing products in the former Eastern Bloc.
Principles in Action
In 2008, two companies that share a commitment to producing high-quality goods joined forces when Mars, Incorporated acquired Wrigley. Today, their approach to business is guided by the Mars Five Principles of Quality, Responsibility, Mutuality, Efficiency, and Freedom. By putting these principles into action every day, Wrigley is able to make a difference for people and the planet through its performance.
Making A Difference For People
Wrigley continues to expand its efforts to make a difference for people through programs that benefit both the company and the communities it serves. Since 1987, the Wrigley Company Foundation has provided more than $70 million to non-profit organizations and communities worldwide. The Wrigley Oral Healthcare Program offers health and hygiene education in key markets around the globe. As part of the Mars Volunteer Program, Wrigley associates around the world donate thousands of volunteer hours to their communities every year. Through the Mars Ambassador Program, associates become immersed in community service projects around the world, volunteering their time and expertise for days and weeks at a time.
Making A Difference For The Planet
As Wrigley runs its day-to-day business, it does so with an honest commitment to the planet. Across the world, Wrigley is seeking to use fewer resources to run its factories and is becoming more efficient each year. The company’s commitment to ecological stewardship was magnified in 2005 with the construction of its Global Innovation Center (GIC), which became Wrigley’s global headquarters in 2012. Wrigley is also mindful of the impact its products have on the environment by selecting ingredients and packaging materials with a lower footprint and working with communities to encourage more responsible disposal. Wrigley supports community education and litter-prevention campaigns in Australia, China, Germany, Ireland, the U.K. and the U.S. Wrigley associates are doing their part as well. Through participation in the company’s “Go Green” projects, associates are making sustainable behavior a way of life at Wrigley.
Wrigley. Creating Simple Pleasures to Brighten Everyone's Day
With operations in more than 40 countries and distribution in more than 180 countries, Wrigley’s brands continuously bring smiles to faces around the globe.