The TrimSpa Challenge: Handling Anna Nicole's Death
It's not exactly confidence-inspiring when a press release, perhaps the most Panglossian of all corporate documents, leads off with a bleak question like this one: "The Face of TrimSpa: Can the brand survive after Anna Nicole Smith?" But that was the heading of a Goen Technologies missive that hit my inbox Saturday afternoon, just two days after the tragic passing of Smith, who for three years lent a few double-wides full of trailer-trash sheen to Trimspa's diet pills.
The release doesn't take long to get to make its point: There's no time for mourning where there's pounds to be shed. After acknowledging the former Playboy centerfold's role in building the brand (click here for an example of her commercial work), it briskly moves on to the other business. "The Company's success is not simply a result of Anna Nicole Smith, but of a dedicated team, its scientists, studies and research," reads a quote from Alex Goen, CEO and founder of TrimSpa.
The real force behind Trimspa, it turns out, is something called hoodia gordonii, which if you're not up on goings-on in the plant kingdom is a species that some, like Trimspa parent Goen Technologies, argue is an effective appetite suppressant. Hoodia gordonii is the active ingredient in Trimspa X32, the product that Ms. Smith has been flogging, and its effectiveness has been the subject of much debate and, now, some litigation.
That debate will likely widen with Ms. Smith's death and subsequent revelation that Trimspa wasn't the only diet drink in her life. Photos of her fridge obtained by TMZ.com showed an interesting interpretation of the food pyramid, including spray-on butter, La Yogurt, Worcestershire sauce, methadone, and a frothy, chocolaty smoking gun -- a few cans of Slim-Fast Optima.
The marketing dilemmas for Goen, a N.J.-based company that also markets Winfuel and other brands, are obvious. How in the days of media explosion that are sure to come does Goen, whose Trimspa website is currently dedicated to grieving postings by Trimspa and Anna Nicole devotees, manage its relationship to a popular and tragically flawed former spokeswoman even as it sallies forth into the future? The press release suggests this won't be a problem, given the number of success stories that are out there among its current customers. "They are your neighbors, friends, family members, and coworkers," reads another quote from Mr. Goen. "Their weight loss experience is no less celebrated for them as Anna's was to the world."
Do I hear another consumer-generated ad contest coming? In any event, I'm sure this guy will have the answers.