MEAD JOHNSON READIES FULL LINE FOR VIACTIV BRAND: WOMEN TARGETED IN $15 MIL EFFORT TO MOVE BEYOND CALCIUM CHEWS

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Infant formula marketer Mead Johnson Nutritionals, drawing on its marketing credentials with women, will launch a new nutritional supplement superbrand early next year.

An estimated $15 million ad campaign will support a line of female-targeted drinks and nutrition bars that will expand its existing Viactiv brand.

The Viactiv portfolio currently includes only one product, a calcium chew introduced late last year, but a full complement of new Viactiv-branded products will start shipping to retailers later this fall.

BUILDING CONNECTION TO WOMEN

The project, in the works for several years, is an outgrowth of a 4-year-old new-product development group. One goal is to build on Mead Johnson's connection with women already established through its $1.1 billion Enfamil brand.

"We feel there are leveragable opportunities there," a spokesman said. "We plan on leveraging where we can, but certainly we're creating a new category."

In product research, Mead Johnson explored with women their needs for good health and the easiest ways to achieve better nutrition. While the company declined to offer specifics, it's expected the brand extensions may move beyond calcium to include herbal supplements and other nutrients.

"It's looking at what women are telling us their nutritional needs are-when they need pick-me-ups and what forms they'd like to take it in," said the spokesman.

CARMEL-FLAVOR CALCIUM CHEW

Plans call for a third flavor of Viactiv calcium chews to join the existing milk chocolate and mochaccino varieties. An executive with knowledge of the plans said the third flavor was caramel; the company would not confirm it.

An energy bar and a fruit drink containing calcium also are on the boards, according to an executive close to the project. Another said nutrition bars and drinks such as spritzers and smoothies will be included, with New Age ingredients such as ginkgo and echinacea.

The ad push from Foote, Cone & Belding, Chicago, kicked off in March with a spot for the calcium chews; ads will support the expanded line beginning early next year.

Since its launch, Viactiv calcium chews already has achieved a 10% share in the calcium supplement market, according to the company. They're billed as a revolution in the category since they provide an alternative to unappetizing

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