Mentos Gum Bursts Into the U.S.

NEW YORK Perfetti Van Melle USA will spend $40 million-plus this year to introduce Mentos Gum in the U.S.

The new product is the confectionery company’s second attempt in five years to crack the U.S. gum market. The Erlanger, Ky.-based division of Italy’s Perfetti Van Melle tried in 2003 with Mentos NewCharge. The mint gum has since been discontinued.

A big chunk of the Mentos gum budget will buy slots on prime-time shows such as Grey’s Anatomy and Desperate Housewives. A 30-second spot created by Bartle Bogle Hegarty, London, features a man sitting near an office water cooler chewing Mentos gum. A woman approaches and locks lips with an open mouth kiss. She then wipes the water that trickled down her chin and departs. The camera zooms in on the man who resumes chewing gum as the tagline appears: “New Mentos gum. It’s mouthwatering.”

The TV spot broke this month and is slated to run through April 2009. Other support includes radio spots on American Top 40 with Ryan Seacrest, print, coupons and sampling. Mentos gum is available in Spearmint, Red Fruit and Peppermint flavors.

The gum launch is a major foray for a company with about $2 billion in annual global sales — less than half the size of its competitors. Worldwide sales for Wrigley, maker of Orbit, Extra and Eclipse, were $5.4 billion last year, and Cadbury’s sales were $10.1 billion. Cadbury’s Parsippany, N.J., unit, which handles Dentyne and Trident, has about a 34 percent share of the $3.2-billion U.S. gum market, compared to Wrigley’s 60 percent, per Nielsen.