Nutritional Supplements Retailer Brings Back Old Promotion

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SAN FRANCISCO ( -- GNC tomorrow launches a $20 million retrofitting of its nutritional supplement retail stores, bringing the chain back to its sunflower roots.

The redesign of 4,200 General Nutrition Centers throughout the U.S. will feature sunflowers throughout the store as well as a promotion in which it will distribute 600,000 packets of sunflower seeds, a concept that hearken back to 1972 when the retailer's salesmen pitched customers by touting the seeds' high protein and natural vitamins.

Simultaneous retrofitting
The redesign also includes health information kiosks and improved lighting at each store. In an unusual move for the retail business, GNC retrofitted each retail location throughout the chain at the same time; often, retailers will roll out redesigns, making adjustments by location as needed.

The redesign will be backed by a print and radio campaign in 25 major markets nationwide.

A spokeswoman for GNC denied recent reports the company had consolidated its advertising account at WPP Group's Y&R Advertising. She said the company has been talking with Y&R but a decision about their advertising account has not been made, and that the retailer is not conducting a review at this time. GNC had worked with Omnicom Group's TBWA/Chiat/Day on a project that has been completed, she said. Current work on the redesign was developed by two Pennsylvania-area shops, she said

$15 billion-a-year industry
In an increasingly competitive business, GNC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Royal Numico N.V., claims to own 10% of the $15 billion-a-year nutrition and supplement business. Competitors such as Herbalife International of America, which hired Bcom3 Group's D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, Los Angeles, plans a new campaign as early as the end of the year.

GNC spent $29.3 million in measured media in 2001 and $11.8 million in the first seven months of this year, according to Taylor Nelson Sofres' CMR.

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