Jan 7, 2009

Mktg - Atkins' New Recipe: 'Sweet, Sexy, Science'

Elaine Wong, Brandweek

NEW YORK The Atkins Diet, which spiked in popularity in the middle of this decade and flamed out shortly thereafter, is attempting a comeback with a new print and online campaign.

Atkins Nutritionals, the company behind the Atkins Diet, has tapped actress Courtney Thorne-Smith as a spokesperson. Print ads running in this month's issues of People, Shape and Us Weekly, bear the headline: "Better Weight Loss. Better Cholesterol. Low Carb. It's Just Better." The ads highlight three key components of the diet's approach, which also make up the campaign's tagline: "Sweet, Sexy, Science."

Diet and weight-loss strategist Denise Lee Yohn, who runs a branding firm in San Diego, said Atkins Nutritionals -- which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January 2005 -- is trying to relaunch the brand with a new, "less clinical" and "more contemporary" message.

Yohn said: "'Sweet' is used to explain that people have more flexibility to eat the foods they enjoy eating. 'Sexy' is used to talk about the results people achieve and the way those results make them feel. 'Science' is used to maintain the medical/more scientific foundation the brand was built upon."

Jennifer McGhee, vp, Atkins marketing, said spending for the campaign is on par with last year. Nielsen Monitor-Plus data shows the company spent $3.2 million on U.S. measured media in 2007 (excluding online), and upped ad spending to $8.1 million through October 2008.

Atkins' competitors in the category, including Weight Watchers, Slim-Fast and NutriSystem, have all introduced new campaigns in recent months, focusing on weight loss and good nutrition. But Atkins brand manager Lisa Wells said Atkins has something unique to offer consumers, particularly with the Thorne-Smith endorsement. (The actress claims to adhere to the Atkins diet herself.) Wells added, "Bars and shakes are still really big and people eat them on numerous occasions."

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