INTERNATIONAL NEWS: MWW creates nutrition and supplements practice

CHICAGO: The MWW Group is starting a nutritionals and functional foods practice to go after business in the areas of nutritional supplements, functional foods, and natural remedies.

CHICAGO: The MWW Group is starting a nutritionals and functional foods practice to go after business in the areas of nutritional supplements, functional foods, and natural remedies.

Larry Zoeller, SVP in Chicago, and Matt Messenger, senior account supervisor in the agency's East Rutherford, NJ headquarters, will manage the practice.

It will also use resources from the firm's Werkhaus at MWW branding and design practice in Seattle.

The practice's first-year goal is to bring in $1 million in fees. Existing clients put it about half way to that mark.

The agency recently signed on new client Natural Health Sciences, a New Jersey supplier of pycnogenol, an antioxidant used to promote cardiovascular and women's health. It's also working on a rebranding campaign for US Nutraceuticals, and works with Bally Total Fitness, promoting its line of nutritional supplements and meal-replacement products.

Zoeller is known in the sector for work he and the firm did promoting lutein for former client Kemin Foods. He worked on the account for seven years.

"When we first started talking about lutein, they didn't even have a product on the market, Zoeller said. Last year, surveys found consumers had a 70% unaided recognition of lutein, which is said to help those with a vision condition called macular degeneration.

Jesse Lopez, EVP at Natural Health Sciences, said he picked MWW as his agency on the strength of what it did for lutein. Natural Health plans to spend $10 million on an integrated advertising and PR campaign for its product.

Zoeller said the nutritional supplement business needs PR to help develop brand images for various producers so they'll stand out from the pack of companies selling herbs and natural remedies. Branding can also help answer concerns about quality and effectiveness.

"By branding, companies are trying to put a mark of quality on their products, Zoeller said.

MWW will start the new practice with three people devoted to it full-time, and others in the agency brought in as needed.

Zoeller expects to use the agency's DC office on lobbying issues as well.

The supplement industry is concerned Congress may repeal a 1994 act that significantly deregulated the industry, and so led to its present-day growth, he explained.

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