Atkins Nutritionals launches a new ad campaign series this month that targets both the classic Atkins Program weight loss seeker.
Originally published on Forbes.com.
Atkins Nutritionals launches a new ad campaign series this month that targets both the classic Atkins Program weight loss seeker (who typically wants to lose 40 plus pounds) and is a female 35-54 years of age. Scott Parker, Atkins’ chief marketing officer says the bigger opportunity is to reach those who want to eat healthier and consume fewer sugars and carbs – men and women 25-44 years old and want to drop ten pounds. A group he estimates is four times larger than the classic Atkins customer.
Robert Atkins MD and Cardiologist first appeared on my WOR Radio program on in the late eighties; a sole voice in the nutrition space preaching the benefits of a high-protein, low-carb diet. His first book, Dr. Atkins' Diet Revolution: The High Calorie Way to Stay Thin Forever published in 1972, spent five years on the New York Times best seller list and in various editions according to his biography sold greater than 15 million copies and put him on a path to publish a plethora of books and cookbooks all touting his high-protein regimen. Atkins came under severe criticism from other researchers and physicians for not having research studies to support his claims; including Dean Ornish MD and nutrition researcher who touted the opposite – that a low-protein high-carb diet could reverse heart disease.
I interviewed Atkins and Ornish on another WOR Radio program together and they debated the issue – it was like a Jerry Springer match-up about nutrition and heart disease and both left the program declaring victory and calling into question the others’ diet scheme. Atkins died on April 17, 2003.
Parker told me by phone this morning that “there are over 80 studies supporting Atkins’ claims” with the most recent published on August 23, 2017 by the University of Florida, UF Health and The Institute on Aging, Department of Aging an Geriatric Research which reviewed 38 popular diets, then whittled down the number to seven which had been evaluated in clinical trials that met strict criteria set by researchers, and then found two that had three or more trials: Atkins and The Zone. The Atkins Diet had the most number of trials – ten, and nine out of the ten according to the research report “demonstrated clinically meaningful short-term weight loss, and six of eight long-term Atkins clinical trials demonstrated long-term weight loss”.
Parker told me that registered dietitians have told him that Atkins’ program is now vindicated, although they are a bit slower than he would like to embrace the diet plan.
The ad campaign, which will play on national cable and syndicated networks has a budget of over $10 million; and focuses on a single message. His goal is to drop a “sugar bomb” and educate people that they consume way too many sugars and carbs. He estimates the average American eats around 300 grams of carbs a day and Atkins Nutritionals says that number should be about a third of that: just 100 grams. Parker says that Atkins’ mission is to change the arc of health care today by lowering the growing incidence of diabetes. The 2015 Dietary Guidelines recommends that Americans get 45 to 65 percent of calories from carbs; about 130 grams per day based on a 2,000 calories per day intake.
The company broke with five ads, some with country singer Lauren Alaina, whom he told me lost 30 pounds on Atkins prior to becoming their spokesperson. Her ads target the classic (30 pounds or more) dieter with other ads for the general population focusing on the “Atkins Effect” i.e., the foods are formulated to deliver protein more effectively by reducing the sugars that can interfere with the benefits of protein.
The creative approach in the latter ads depicts first the typical full teaspoons of sugars (in a bagel vs. a chocolate peanut butter bar and a bowl of oatmeal vs. a milk chocolate shake) then how many are actually in the Atkins’ product ingredients. Not a far comparison you could argue, but certainly one that highlights their message that “sugar is the enemy of protein”.
Oprah joining Weight Watchers as both investor and spokesperson has been a huge boon to their brand which saw their stock price rise over 510% since her deal 23 months ago (October of 2015) and has brought a new vitality to the diet industry that has been floundering for years. No doubt that Atkins hopes for a bit of that famous “Oprah effect” to help bring further awareness to health and wellness for all, and new customers to their brand.