Atkins enlists chefs to tout variety of low-carb program

Amid a competitive diet program arena, Atkins is extending its integrated diet campaign, now in its third year, to promote a new chef initiative that launched in December.

Company Atkins Nutritionals
Campaign Atkins Chef Recipes
Agency mix RF|Binder Partners, PR; Lee-Reedy, advertising; Gotham Direct, media buying; The JAR Group, online media; Rabble & Rouser, website development
Lead agency RF|Binder
In-house team Lisa Wells, brand manager; Allen Silkin, senior director of marketing; Courtney Bellamy, associate marketing manager; Lindsay Ostenson, associate brand manager; Lindsay Brown-Valdez, online marketing coordinator

Amid a competitive diet program arena, Atkins is extending its integrated diet campaign, now in its third year, to promote a new chef initiative that launched in December. It carries the message that specialty foods, eating out, and budgets needn't interfere in its low-carb program.

The team tapped five chefs in key US regions, including Portland, OR; Boulder, CO; Washington, DC; New York City; and Philadelphia, to create low-carb, budget-friendly recipes that it would then promote via diverse marketing channels.

"People have the perception of not being able to eat a variety of foods with Atkins," says brand manager Lisa Wells. "We're pushing to squash that myth."

The ultimate goal of what she calls an extended marketing in- vestment is to drive consumers to Atkins' website and sell product among both "quick-fixer" and "lifestyler" dieters within its 25- to 54-year-old demographic. Wells says Q1 is a key time to reach resolution-driven consumers.

Competitors Nutrisystem and Weight Watchers are also stepping up their game. Allen Silkin, Atkins' senior marketing director, adds, "If you look at earnings, 2010 was a struggle, but both are relaunching programs and trying to re-engage consumers."

To promote the new program and reach consumers, Atkins launched an enhanced version of a weight-loss kit with a two-week meal planner in line with its "Lose up to 15 pounds in two weeks" tag, as well as an acceptable foods list in a promotional booklet about the chef recipe program.

Marketing vehicles include www.AtkinsChefRecipes.com, featuring TV actress Courtney Thorne-Smith as spokesperson; TV, print, and online ads; and PR outreach to various morning shows, men's books, and local news outlets in the key markets.

To capitalize on last year's sales success, the team invested additional resources in this year's ad placements, confirms Wells.

It also expanded its content on YouTube with chef demo videos.

"We want our experts to interact with the community from a video standpoint," says Silkin. 

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