Last week saw the UK launch of Benecol, a new fat-busting margarine
from Finland. Benecol is a mixture of wood pulp and fatty acids, which
helps reduce the amount of cholesterol in the blood and thus helps fight
heart disease, the UK’s biggest killer.
The environment was ripe for the launch of this first major
’nutraceutical’ - a nutritional food with pharmaceutical benefit.
The story had everything going for it: a novel concept in food and
health, already proven to work elsewhere. So how effectively was the
word on the margarine spread - too thin, or plenty of fat?
Coverage appeared in all the nationals and on mainstream TV and
The key product message pick-up was good and the space devoted to it was
sizeable - no mean feat in a week when Kosovo dominated the news.
Unfortunately one main message did not hit home - cost. Benecol is
priced at pounds 2.49 for a 250g tub. None of the media appeared to pick
up on a ’cost versus value’ message, critical to the majority of the 70
per cent of adults with high-cholesterol levels as they fall into the C,
D and E social brackets and do not have the disposable income to justify
this ’additional’ expense, without clearly understanding the
The coverage so far suggests that the client is unsure about how to best
position the product. From the launch there would appear to have been,
at best, a minimal pre-launch awareness campaign. There was no sign of
key opinion formers pulling in one direction to support this
With awareness of the importance of cholesterol reduction being high,
Benecol could have been launched with a hard-hitting health message from
doctors and personalised by celebrities to the target audience. However,
Carol Vorderman was the celebrity who fronted the launch - perhaps not
the most empathetic to Cs, Ds and Es.
So the verdict? The product launch achieved effective communication of
some specific product messages, but there was little pre-launch
awareness or key opinion former support. The real challenge now is to
educate health care professionals and consumers about the product and
its benefits to drive longer-term use.