Nicole McMillan, Vice President – Portfolio & Marketing Acceleration AMEA, Mars Wrigley Confectionary, explains how Wrigley’s public purpose is being inspired by parent company Mars and its vision of mutuality towards suppliers, retailers and consumers.


Since 2008 Wrigley has been part of the Mars family. That means that central to our work and our mission is the principle of mutuality: ensuring that everyone is stronger together.

One of our biggest inspirations has been the Ambassadors programme run by Mars. This encourages employees to explore and work on the company’s environmental and social projects around the world.

What has been really noticeable is how fired up these Ambassadors are when they return and the stories they tell about their experiences. It creates a sense of happiness and well-being within the organisation and shows that individuals can make a difference at Mars and Wrigley.

This feeling of fulfilment also extends to these Ambassadors’ colleagues, line managers and the people they interact with outside the business.

Our ambition is to use the same approach on consumers and show them that both Mars and Wrigley are authentic companies that have depth to their purpose.

This thought has taken us to where we grow the mint for Doublemint—in the hills of Uttar Pradesh in India. We will be testing concepts in the next 12-24 months designed to help secure greater financial stability and equality for the farmers of Uttar Pradesh.

To do this we will bring the stories of farmers not just to consumers but also to our retail partners, so that everyone in the value chain are bought into the brand purpose.

It’s a new approach for us and we have to test the waters. We are not always going to get it right; it’s about trialling some programmes and seeing what works and what doesn’t.

The process of purpose and making connections

Our process is to work out at a brand level what each brand can do emotionally. We spend a lot of time asking, 'What is it that the brand would stand up for and champion?'. That means that while Wrigley provides the mark of trust, each brand has its own distinct role in the world.

This has become an essential part of how we go about our marketing, thinking about how we can effect positive change.

Our goal for Extra gum, for example, is around confidence and oral health, which translates into campaigns that highlight how everyone deserves a great smile, a reflection of a healthy mouth. For Doublemint, the purpose is around freshness and how that translates into the confidence and willingness to engage; if you feel fresh then you are much more ready to engage in meaningful conversations and make meaningful connections. These real world connections are ever more important in a world where people are becoming more and more isolated thanks to digital and social media.

These brand purposes are universal but they are leveraged very differently in our key Asian markets. One recent Doublemint campaign, “Start something Fresh”, which ran in India (above) and China (below) used a simple storyline of the product being used to connect young lovers and to enact the feeling of being nervous and wanting to connect at the start of a relationship.

The tonality is, of course, different in each market. The campaign in India was big and bold, both in terms of narrative and activation, while the message was more reserved in China. Nevertheless, the same story was being told in both markets.

And stories work. Humans are hard-wired to love a good story. Even with everything else going on, such as media fragmentation, stories matter and we can see that from people’s responses to our campaign. The campaign has been running longer in India than in China but in both markets the amount of shares the campaign has had via YouTube in India and other video-sharing platforms in China has been remarkable.

We want such stories to be—in the words of our partners at BBDO—“socially nutritious”, as demonstrated by the great work that our sister Mars brands do such as Pedigree by providing better homes for dogs through its adoption drive, or the food brands by working around making mealtimes matter and getting families to cook together again.

Internal reciprocity

The authenticity of these types of initiatives is vital for Wrigley not just externally but also internally. That’s because they might not appear to have the best ROI in the short term. Internal buy-in allows marketers to inspire colleagues and teams and enhances our current role as both transformers and extraordinary communicators.

That means slipping out of constant sales mode even when we are trying to sell our projects internally; it’s less about “what’s in it for me” and “this is what I need you to do for me” and more about asking what the other functions require and paying it forward.

Making marketing work internally requires marketers to dial up the reciprocity and build their own personal brands in a way that will allow them to function and flourish within their organisations.

Mutuality comes full circle.


This article was originally published in Campaign Asia. You can find the article here.

Nicole is a jury member of WFA's inaugural Global Marketer of the Year Award. Nominate your favourite marketer before 21 October. More details at