ZonePerfect Changes Its Media Diet, Launching Web TV Channel

VP-Marketing Chris Scoggins on Why His Brand Went to Sundance and Became a New-Media Player

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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Instead of just running a national TV campaign or another derivative print ad of a muscled climber scaling a mountainside or a sweaty biker racing down an empty road, ZonePerfect went to Sundance.

Chris Scoggins: 'The driver of our decision on this campaign was less about the buy and the dollars, but learning to look through the lens of what mode the consumer is in and coming to the area of entertainment.'

Chris Scoggins is leading the charge toward a new way of thinking about media consumption at Abbott Nutrition as division VP-marketing at the healthy-living business unit of Ross Products, where he oversees four brands: ZonePerfect, EAS, Glucerna and Ensure.

At Sundance, ZonePerfect sponsored a series of acoustic sessions (with headline acts including Joss Stone, Joan Osborn and Sean Lennon). But instead of sitting on the sidelines at the Park City, Utah, film festival, Mr. Scoggins worked to extend the event from just a one-night show for the Hollywood A-list crowd to a program that would reach ZonePerfect customers.

By filming the sessions in high definition, ZonePerfect was able to premiere the special on June 4 on Women's Entertainment, where it will run all month before moving to video on demand at the brand's newly launched web TV channel, ZonePerfectTV.

Beyond just watching the acoustic sessions, ZonePerfect customers can download three free songs. And unlike with most of the ubiquitous music-marketing promotions of late, the live performances are unique to ZonePerfect TV. Target and Wal-Mart are even promoting the songs in circulars.

Prior to joining Ross, Ms. Scoggins worked for 10 years at Johnson & Johnson, including three years in Portugal and Mexico, on major J&J brands including Johnson's Baby, Reach, Tylenol, Imodium and Lactaid.

M&V: ZonePerfect and music -- who knew? Can you explain how the idea for this campaign came together?

Chris Scoggins: Our director of marketing, Tobe Cohen, and agency Ten United deserve the credit. It was their brainchild.

M&V: Why create a portal like your investment in instead of just running a more traditional campaign?

Mr. Scoggins: It's a first for us. We bought Zone back in 2003 and [have been] able to step back and ask: What's the right market strategy based on our prospect consumer and what their passions are? When you step back and ask that question for Zone, the passion in this area is arts, music and entertainment, and that became clear through research. We have a 100-year heritage in nutrition -- Zone is one of the new additions to our family of brands -- and as we look at Zone and growing this business, it's really about connecting with consumers on a functional and emotional level, and entertainment is the right connection point.

M&V: Was the agency involved in brokering the acts?

Mr. Scoggins: They were the driver of the partnerships. [Ten United] helped bring this idea to life. They are a wonderful agency because they can take something from concept to 360-degree execution.

M&V: How is this different from what you've done in the past?

Mr. Scoggins: The ZonePerfect product was born out of the Zone Diet, and the Zone Diet has a group of fanatical followers that really were the legacy heritage of the brand. But we have evolved the brand, and as we looked at where the space is today and who are the users of the brand and what are the passions and their common threads ... I think it is natural, the spot where we have landed.

M&V: How has this new way of thinking about the brand changed your media mix?

Mr. Scoggins: It's made us think 360 degrees. If you look historically at Zone media, it was basically print campaigns. When you talk about a deeper relationship with a consumer and connecting with them from the grass-roots and their time and media consumption, it opens up the way you think about what media is going to be most appropriate, which is entertainment-focused. So the question becomes: How do you connect with entertainment? You move from print advertising -- which is talking to consumers -- to connecting with their entertainment wants, and that, then, has a corresponding approach to a media strategy that is really driven by stepping into the consumers' shoes and finding out where they want to be entertained and how we can be a part of that.

M&V: Is branded entertainment emerging as a new element of Abbot's marketing plans?

Mr. Scoggins: Where it's relevant to the consumer, yes. If it's right for that brand and that consumer, absolutely.

M&V: Are you re-evaluating the media-consumption habits of yours customers on each of your brands?

Mr. Scoggins: We are taking an agnostic approach to media -- asking, "What's the right way to connect to the consumer?" And then we think about media and then make the choice, as opposed to surveying the media landscape and figuring out what the trends are.

M&V: What was the cost to create this campaign? Was it less than what you may have had to spend to do a TV campaign?

Mr. Scoggins: Abbott doesn't release any financial data. We haven't run TV on Zone since it's been at Ross on a national level. We have run print. The driver of our decision on this campaign was less about the buy and the dollars, but learning to look through the lens of what mode the consumer is in and coming to the area of entertainment. In thinking about the choices that are available [to consumers], it causes you to think about the media selection criteria very differently.

M&V: Have you gotten any feedback on the special and if there was a rush to download songs?

Mr. Scoggins: From a customer perspective -- which is our retail partners -- they've embraced it very, very well. They've seen the promotion and understand the logic behind it and have wrapped their arms around it. Regarding results, customer feedback has been tremendous, and the product itself is making its way to shelves right now. The proof of success will be in how many promotional packages we sell and downloads. We are hopeful consumers will embrace it and we will have a deeper relationship with them and be able to connect the Zone brand with the entertainment desires of our customers.
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