Baja's Live Fresh effort touts healthy lifestyles

NEW YORK: Baja Fresh Mexican Grill is working with The MacKenzie Agency on a campaign to encourage healthier eating. Called Live Fresh, the effort features soccer star Mia Hamm as a spokeswoman to encourage more active lifestyles.

NEW YORK: Baja Fresh Mexican Grill is working with The MacKenzie Agency on a campaign to encourage healthier eating. Called Live Fresh, the effort features soccer star Mia Hamm as a spokeswoman to encourage more active lifestyles.

One primary goal of the campaign is to connect the notion of a healthy and fresh lifestyle to how the company prepares food at its 298 restaurants, said Karen MacKenzie, president of The MacKenzie Agency.

"Aside from the food-service media, who understand the strategy behind this brand, I don't think the average consumer understands that the food is totally fresh," she said, adding that the chain doesn't use microwaves or freezers. "They probably have an association with fast food. We thought this would really give it a point of difference."

Mackenzie added that the messages surrounding the brand would focus on portion control to differentiate it from Chipotle Grill, its main competitor.

MacKenzie noted that, so far, the media outreach involving Hamm has been concentrated on large markets, involving such television shows as Access Hollywood and Good Day LA. The agency also has targeted print journalists who cover health and wellness, nutrition, parenting, and education.

"What was critical was [connecting] it to the national obesity epidemic," she said. The company is featuring the campaign on its Web site, which also lists Hamm's top 10 tips for staying healthy, including the promotion of exercise as fun "activities," learning portion control through making dinners, and making household chores fun.

Last week, Baja brought 10 sweepstakes winners - kids ages 5 to 16 - to Los Angeles to participate in a soccer clinic with Hamm. The agency also will look to the 2007 Women's World Cup as a platform for messaging and possible partnerships, said MacKenzie.

Parent company Wendy's International has put Baja on the selling block as part of its plan to divest non-burger businesses, and MacKenzie thinks that will allow Baja "to exercise [its] own brand creativity."

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