CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- The parent company of belly-busting chains KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Long John Silver's and A&W is banding its brands together in an effort help consumers lose weight.
Yum Brands is introducing Keep It Balanced, a website with tips for healthful eating (eat a variety of foods, start your day with breakfast, etc.) and suggestions for lower-calorie meals at its restaurants. Granted, there's a lot of subtraction involved.
Voice of authority
At KFC, you've got to order the Original Recipe chicken breast without skin, mashed potatoes without gravy, green beans and a Diet Pepsi to keep your meal to 265 calories. Ordering your diet lunch is a little easier at Taco Bell, which has a low-cal Fresco menu. Of course, picking the better-for-you meals once you get into the store is an entirely different ball of wax.
For an authoritative voice, the company has hired hometown University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino to provide monthly fitness tips on the website. Mr. Pitino is highly regarded and an experienced pitchman, although he has earned the ire of many Kentuckians for coaching both of the state's storied and most rivaled teams.
As an added benefit, Yum has developed an online fitness program ideal for consumers who want to get fit but don't want to pay for a gym membership, according to spokeswoman Virginia Ferguson. EFit4Me creates a fitness program, examines eating patterns, and provides motivation, among other services. Yum is extending a free month trial to anyone who visits a Yum restaurant after January 1. Those who like it can continue with the program at $6 per month.
"We are committed to continue offering 'better for you' menu options, educate consumers about the foods they eat, and promote exercise so they can maintain a balanced lifestyle," Jonathan Blum, Yum chief public affairs officer, said in a statement. "We are proud of our partnership with Coach Rick Pitino and our free online-exercise program, and our goal is to help reinforce the importance of physical activity as part of a healthy lifestyle."
The program is relatively unusual for the company, which generally markets its brands separately. But the coming year will be a big one for Yum, which is essentially rebranding two of its biggest chains. KFC will begin selling grilled chicken and Pizza Hut, which recently began selling pasta, is adding Wing Street locations inside its stores. Pizza Hut plans to become the nation's largest chicken-wing chain.
Yum is, of course, just one of many marketers capitalizing on diet season. Kellogg is launching a "wake-up call" campaign in Times Square on New Year's Eve.