Atkins kicks off new year with multimillion-dollar effort

DENVER: Atkins Nutritionals has launched its largest marketing campaign in at least three years, with a PR push aimed at boosting membership to the weight management company's online community.

DENVER: Atkins Nutritionals has launched its largest marketing campaign in at least three years, with a PR push aimed at boosting membership to the weight management company's online community.

“We feel we have the best diet out there because Atkins can become a lifestyle. If you look at our competitors, what you can eat on those diets [leaves] consumers hungry,” Lisa Wells Thies, Atkins' brand manager, said. “So we're going big and bold this year.”

The multimillion-dollar integrated campaign, of which Thies said “PR is an important part,” features a celebrity tie-in, user-generated videos, in-store signage, and advertising.

PR will also be heavily used to help drive membership to the online community of Atkins users, at www.Atkins.com, which currently numbers over one million. Atkins will mail new registrants a starter kit, carb counter book and three nutrition bars free of charge.

To also encourage people to join the community, Atkins will select 5 to 8 new users to document their weight loss journey using social media over a 12-week period. The users will be chosen from applicants to www.poptent.net, a site which connects independent and freelance videographers with companies and brands. To drive applicants to the promotion, Atkins is conducting outreach to video-centric tech blogs and film magazines frequented by amateur and professional videographers. “The program seeks to inspire people to try the Atkins Nutritional Approach by demonstrating the success that regular people—albeit those with good camera skills—have on the program,” said Thies.

Two-minute video diaries of the participants will be posted on the Atkins Web site, as well as video and social media networks. “We'll outreach to marketing, health and nutrition and women's press as well as highlight the success stories on the Atkins Facebook fan page and Twitter account,” Thies told PRWeek. “It will be natural to have some of the people behind the success stories participate in one of our monthly Atkins Tweet chats or do a Q&A on our Facebook fan page.” Atkins has more than 3,400 Facebook fans and 3,100 Twitter followers.

Atkins has increasingly turned to real people to tell its story. Atkins added more user testimonials to its newly designed Web site, and it uses those real people in its media relations. A planned January 8 segment on Good Morning America about people who have lost over 100 pounds on a diet, for example, will feature Atkins follower Kim Eidson. “Real testimonials are so powerful because we know from research we've done that dieting is very emotional,” said Thies. “That is why we have spent a lot of time over the last year and a half revamping our community site to give people the free tools and forums they want.”

However, actress Courtney Thorne Smith is also the face of the campaign. She appeared in TV ads which debuted last week. In the ads, her first since becoming spokeswoman in early 2009, she speaks to the flexibility and variety of the program versus Atkins competitors.

Thorne-Smith will take part in an SMT and be featured in a mat release. Last week, Entertainment Tonight broadcast b-roll footage of the According to Jim actress on set of the Atkins TV ad shoot. With the help of its PR AOR RF Binder, Atkins will also create special events with Thorne-Smith, such as at the ExpoWest trade conference this spring in California.

Thorne-Smith, in addition to appearing in print and online ads, will be featured in more than 2,500 in-store displays on Wal-Mart Smart TVs. In March, Atkins will also launch a new book, The New Atkins for a New You: The Ultimate Diet for Shedding Weight and Feeling Great. RF Binder, along with Planned Television Arts (part of sister agency Ruder Finn Group), will promote the book.

Atkins has been working with New York-based RF Binder on PR since October 2008, following a seven-month stint with Minnesota-based Kohnstamm. Thies said they hired RF Binder based on a recommendation by their media agency, Gotham Direct.

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