Repositioning brands as healthy requires fact-backed initiatives

Companies like Kraft Foods - well-known for its Velveeta brand prepared pasteurized cheese goods - are trying to reposition themselves to become more focused on "healthy living," according to an article from Adweek.

Companies like Kraft Foods - well-known for its Velveeta brand prepared pasteurized cheese goods - are trying to reposition themselves to become more focused on "healthy living," according to an article from Adweek.

With the growing consumer interest in healthy living and a nationwide discussion regarding childhood obesity as the foundation of its message, Kraft in 2005 launched the Sensible Solutions program. Kicking off with a labeling initiative - green "Sensible Solutions" flags first appearing on the labels of more than 500 selected Kraft products - the program has expanded to include both online and offline marketing initiatives.

The Sensible Solutions microsite has been revamped and now offers recipes, nutritional information, lists of Sensible Solutions products, and a search function. A radio campaign this fall will ask listeners to submit ideas on how to substitute Kraft Sensible Solutions as alternative ingredients in their favorite recipes.

Why does it matter?

Companies across the board are sensing the demands from federal controllers and consumers to join the health bandwagon, and PR is crucial to a brand's repositioning campaign.

"When you're talking about a repositioning of a consumer branded product like Velveeta that is marketed typically to women, the communications has to be authentic," says Kelley Skoloda, director of the global brand marketing practice at Ketchum. If you're going to reposition with a healthy-living message, there needs to be validation and evidence of how the product is being made and its changes, she explains. There must be some real health benefit for the consumer.

"It really has to be backed by a campaign that isn't superficial, but does its due diligence in creating the appropriate healthy product line or service offering," says A.J. Goodman, VP of the media strategy group at Ketchum. "It has to be a natural extension of the brand and must be tested so that it's not just a race to piggyback on a trend."

Five facts:

1 In a July 2006 ACNielsen survey, consumers identified health - including fat and calorie content of food products - as their major concern, according to Adweek.

2 Kraft's brand repositioning consists mostly of existing products, including Crystal Light Lemonade drink, Louis Rich Turkey Bacon, and sugar-free Jell-O.

3 One-quarter of adults surveyed in a Harris Interactive poll said the nutritional facts panel is the second most important factor for them when buying a food or beverage.

4 McDonald's, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, and General Mills all recently agreed to set basic nutrition standards for foods for which they advertise to kids younger than 12.

5 Dreyer's Slow Churned ice cream has helped the company promote the healthy-living message, with the CEO doing a taste test on CNN to tout the low-fat alternative.

Irene Chang

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