Marketer of diet aids' success crosses borders

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[Toronto] Reality really set in for Jamieson Laboratories when the Canadian market leader in natural products wanted to introduce weight-loss aid Slim Down Jump Start Kit in the crowded diet-conscious market. "We wanted a truly innovative, unique, high-impact vehicle to generate awareness of the new product," said Kevin Edwards, Jamieson's VP marketing.

The company teamed up with food, fitness and nutrition experts to develop Slim Down TV, a show created and produced by Jamieson itself. In 26 half-hour episodes, the show follows the lives of ordinary Canadians in their quest for healthful, permanent weight-loss, and features the Slim Down Kit which combines three proprietary formulations and a "Weight Loss Coach" CD. A Web site offers the TV schedule, fitness and nutrition advice and recipes. A study claims that users of the new system have an average weight loss of 4.74 pounds in two weeks. In an unintended consequence, Americans are driving across the Canadian border to buy the weight-loss products. Although Jamieson products are not sold in the U.S., the TV shows are only airing on stations near the border. At the end of each show and along the bottom of the screen viewers are informed that the product is sold in Canadian drugstores and a phone number is given for more information and locations.

"We found that specialty channels didn't offer exactly what we wanted, and that the U.S. border stations were more accessible while reaching close to 90% of Canadian households," said Stephanie Blok, Jamieson's public-relations manager.

Jamieson is running a $860,000 advertising and consumer-support program in Canada that includes outdoor, transit, online, radio, shopping mall and print media, all developed in-house by Jamieson. Media is handled by AOR Media Management, Toronto.

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