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Thursday, May 26, 2022

George Owino: Story of Man Behind Big G, Kenya’s Biggest Chewing Gum

  • In the aughts and approximately three decades prior, the Big G was the biggest chewing gum brand beloved by the old, the young and everyone in between. It was a household name.

    Its distinct larger size (as compared to other pellets in the market), red cover branding, and yellow wording made the product conspicuously stand out from the fold.

    Very few people, however, can put a face to the founding of the now-ubiquitous chewing gum named after the late Sir George Owino.

    Owino’s journey to the top began in 1971 when he broke history by becoming the first-ever Kenyan employee at the then newly launched Wrigley Company in the country. The company is the force behind some of the beloved chewing gums such as Juicy Fruit, Double Mint and Orbit.

    Samples of the Big G chewing gum.

    At his new workstation, he was hired as a marketer but according to reports, he was not entirely impressed by the pellets that formed a huge chunk of the chewing gum market.

    Owino wanted a slightly bigger gum and so the Big G was born. At the time, it was the first gum to be manufactured in such a size in the world, differentiating itself in the market.

    When the product hit the shelves, an intense marketing strategy to popularise it countrywide was launched and by 1983, it was already competing with the market leaders.

    With the success came promotions. Sir George then grew up the ranks in the company which had then expanded its operations to several countries on the continent.

    He later became the chairman of Wrigley’s in East Africa. 

    Early Education

    Born in 1941, Owino rose from a humble background as the only child of Patrick Owidh and Maria Obiero. He proceeded to Sega Primary School from where he proceeded to Shimo la Tewa Intermediate School.

    He served as Wringley’s Chairman to his retirement in 1998 and passed away in July 2004.

    The late Sir George Owino, brains behind Big G.
    The late Sir George Owino, brains behind Big G.

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