SLIM FAST TOUTS ITS QUICK FIX: $1O MIL EFFORT SUPPORTS NEW JUMP START

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Slim Fast Foods will be hitting the airwaves today with an estimated $10 million campaign to support a new quick-fix diet product called Jump Start.

Jump Start includes 15 individual packages of powdered Slim-Fast, a shaker and a menu plan recommending intake of fruits and vegetables along with diet tips, designed to help consumers "lose 5 pounds in five days . . . guaranteed."

The new line joins the flagship Slim-Fast, which recommends three shakes a day, and Ultra Slim-Fast, which recommends one or two shakes a day.

FASTEST PRODUCT IN LINE

According to VP-Marketing Marc Covent, Jump Start is positioned as the fastest weight loss product in the company's arsenal.

With other Slim-Fast products, he said, "We basically say the typical weight loss is 3 to 4 pounds the first week and 1 to 2 pounds every week after."

Jump Start's ad campaign from Grey Advertising, New York, will use the marketer's tried-and-true formula of testimonials.

CELEBS IN THE PAST

Average consumers who have lost weight on the program will appear in the Jump Start campaign, said Mr. Covent, who noted Slim Fast hasn't used celebrities in its advertising for at least two years.

Consumers now appearing in the ads for Ultra and regular Slim-Fast were chosen from users who have written to the company praising the product, he said.

No print advertising is planned, although a newspaper free-standing insert will drop June 1.

Although there has been a softening in the diet category among weight-loss centers such as H.J. Heinz Co.'s Weight Watchers International, largely attributed to the rising popularity of diet drugs such as Redux, Mr. Covent said Slim-Fast has remained a growth brand.

ULTRA'S SALES UP 32.6%

According to Information Resources Inc. figures, Ultra Slim-Fast sales in food, drug and mass merchandisers were up 32.6% for the 52 weeks ended March 30, to $191.4 million. Slim-Fast itself came in with sales of $19.8 million during the period, up 10.7%.

The closest competitor was Nestle USA's Sweet Success, with sales of $51.5 million, up 2.1%.

Those results could be a reflection of Slim Fast's strong ad-spending regimen: The company shelled out $45.2 million in advertising last year, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

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