EDiets Fattens Marketing After Holidays

EDiets.com Inc. is publishing a magazine with Time Inc. Home Entertainment called eDiets Weight Loss Solutions as part of its integrated, post-holiday marketing plan. The one-time custom publication will be distributed today.

The magazine is being printed and published by Time Inc. Home Entertainment and will be distributed through the Time network, including checkout stands at grocery stores, drugstores and mass-market retailers. It includes success stories, recipes and fitness tips from Bob Greene, Oprah Winfrey's trainer. It won't include ads from any other companies — just calls to action from eDiets, Deerfield Beach, FL.

EDiets.com is an online diet, fitness and healthy living destination offering professional advice, information, products and services to people seeking to improve their health and longevity. From 1997 through June 2005, 2 million consumers worldwide have become eDiets.com members. The company sells subscriptions to its personalized online diet, fitness and motivation programs. A subscription costs less than $5 a week.

The custom publication is just part of an extensive post-holiday integrated marketing program. The company launched a series of national television ads Jan. 1. Shattuck Groome, eDiets.com's senior director of marketing, said this year's ads feature real people who participated in its diet plans.

Though this year's short-form spot aims to enhance brand awareness, “at the same time it does have a very strong call to action,” Groome said. “There is a very hard direct response nature to it.”

The voiceover call to action is: “Lose 10 Pounds in Five Weeks.” Copy then directs viewers to “log on now” to eDiets.com. A toll-free number also is offered. The ads, which will run all year, were created by Donat/Wald, Santa Monica, CA, a full-service marketing and communications agency that specializes in brand-building direct response advertising.

Historically, eDiets.com has attracted members through a combination of online advertising — it is one of the largest advertisers on the Internet — and its personalized online interactive magazines and electronic newsletters, which are distributed to an opt-in circulation of 13 million individuals.

“One of the reasons we chose Donat/Wald was because of the success it had matching direct response with branding for their headline client eHarmony.com,” Groome said. “If you look at [those] ads, it's not quite direct response, but it is direct response. … We liked the model that they followed, where they kept true advertising and branding metrics in there, but at the same time it had a hard DR nature to it.”

Groome said eDiets will track and optimize the ads throughout the year.

Testimonials and the “Find Your Perfect Diet” messaging also will be featured in all of eDiets' marketing channels this year, including print ads that started running this month. Later this year, the company will test out-of-home, traditional direct mail, but Groome offered no details.

The company is diversifying its product line this year, having launched FreshCuisine, a chef-prepared, fresh food delivery service, on Jan. 1. FreshCuisine, which will have more than 400 menu items, was developed for tailoring based on each customer's preferences. The business is in response to complaints by clients who said they want to eat better but are too busy to go grocery shopping or cook, eDiets said. Costs start at $6 per meal.

Print ads are being tested in weekly newspapers such as USA Today and monthly women's magazines such as Shape, Fitness and Modern Bride. EDiets also is testing ads in Sunday newspaper inserts and in package inserts when packages are delivered to consumers from companies like Overstock.com.

The ads have a strong call to action: Consumers are directed to www.freshcuisine.com or a toll-free number to receive a free week of fresh meals and a thermal tote when they are on the program for four weeks. Banner ads, search marketing and affiliate marketing also started this month. FreshCuisine is being promoted in eDiets.com's traditional e-mail newsletters.

In general, eDiets models its database “and targets messages based on the modeling and profiling we have done of our consumers,” Groome said.

The company also is focusing on its alliances this year. For example, eDiets is the only sponsor for America Online and ABC's “Good Morning America's” co-branded Web site called AmericaTakesItOff.com, which focuses on diet advice. This month, AOL.com's welcome screen drives users to the America Takes It Off site.

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