Olin alum unwraps the story on a groundbreaking gum commercial

  • December 14, 2017
  • By Guest Blogger
  • 3 minute read

Jeff Wurtzel, MBA ’05, is a marketing director for Mars Wrigley Confectionery US, the largest candy company in the world and the manufacturer of iconic brands such as M&M’S, SNICKERS, SKITTLES and EXTRA Gum. Jeff was responsible for launching one of the company’s most successful viral marketing campaigns for EXTRA Gum, the largest gum brand in the United States. The campaign—called “Give Extra, Get Extra”—achieved more than 100 million online views and received numerous industry awards for business and creative achievements.

Jeff Wurtzel, MBA ’05
Jeff Wurtzel, MBA ’05

How did the campaign for EXTRA Gum start?

It started with a simple insight that something as small as a piece of gum that you can share can unlock meaningful connections with others. As a business, we were looking to accelerate our growth. We believed that a new marketing campaign around sharing could really spark an interest with our consumers and tell the story of our brand in an emotional way.

Your work has gone on to achieve more than 100 million online views. What was the initial launch like?

In the first weekend we launched, our ad had 40 million online views. The song we used in the spot became one of the top 10 trending searches on Apple Music. Dozens of media outlets and influencers posted about our ad, including Ellen DeGeneres.

Our whole team involved was flooded with calls and texts from our colleagues, friends, and family who saw the ad out in the world. We knew we had something special. But the speed of the success really surprised us and it just took off like a rocket ship.

You recorded a very memorable song in the ad. Can you describe the importance of music in the work?

The music was the secret sauce. Hailey Reinhart’s rendition of Elvis’ classic “Can’t Help Falling In Love” was instrumental to our success. There’s something about her voice and this version of the song that’s really moving, and it broke through with viewers in a very special way. We heard time and again how much our consumers loved her rendition. We were also thrilled to learn that Hailey Reinhart recently achieved a certified gold record for her work on the song.

What was the impact to your business?

The impact to our business was immediate. In the first six months of the campaign, the brand grew faster than any other large-scale gum offering in the industry. And this year, EXTRA became the No. 1 gum brand in the entire category—the first time in 15 years. The positive impact to our business illustrates the power of combining clear business goals with breakthrough creative solutions.

You received your MBA in 2005. Were you on a marketing track when you started your MBA?

I originally graduated with a focus in strategy and finance. I started at Mars Wrigley Confectionery as an associate in the strategy group working on new ventures and global acquisitions. Through my work, I developed a passion for building brands and businesses and was encouraged to move into our marketing group where I have worked for the last 10 years.

Any courses and/or professors at Olin that have resonated throughout your career so far?

Mahendra Gupta had an enormous impact on my career and my connection to the WashU community. He was always generous in providing advice, passionate about the program, a first-rate connector among the alumni base and a great managerial accounting teacher…which sometimes is a tough act.

What advice do you have for the MBA Class of 2019?

Find a career that fits into your passion and interests and one that is not dictated by the influence of others around you.

Does the WashU network influence or compose part of your current work/social network?

WashU continues to play a huge part of my life professionally and personally and some of my closest friends are fellow graduates who I still talk with on a weekly basis.

About the Author

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