Herbalife Launches Ad Comeback
The 23-year old company built its science-based herbal weight loss product through word of mouth and local distributor ads sine 1993. That business now amounts to $1.8 billion per year comprised of vitamins, supplements, drinks and nutrition bars. Elisabeth Charles, senior VP of global corporate marketing, said the company sees new opportunities in the weight-loss market.
"According to our information, obesity has hit an all-time high in this country," Charles said. "We feel like we have a great message and a lot of credibility in our brand. And that message hasn't been delivered to consumers in a long time."
Ten years ago the Herbalife ads consisted of 30-minute infomercials that ran on USA Networks. Now 60- and 120-second direct response spots will each air in six U.S. test markets in both English and Spanish, including Dallas, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Phoenix and Sacramento. The company will use this test as a platform for a future national ad campaign, which Charles said is in the works. The ads feature testimonials from Herbalife customers who tell their life-transforming stories about how the Herbalife products helped them lose weight and gain self-esteem.
Tipping its hat to a marketplace that has been hit hard by charges of unsafe products and a major controversy over ephedra-based weight-loss products, one of the spots focuses on Total Control, an ephedra-free herbal weight loss formula. Charles said the 120-second spots have exceeded sales expectation by anywhere between 20 and 100%. She said women between 30 and 42 have proven to be the key audience.
"We're looking to expand quickly to more markets and to national cable," she said. "Right now we're measuring a lot of leads and customer experiences. There's a lot of infrastructure for us to build as well. This is all new to us and we expect to become more effective and targeted as wel go."
The effort will rebuild the Herbalife brand as well. "Our focus groups showed that we have a good reputation in the marketplace," she said. "People are confident in our brand. We've shown that we have safe products. We feel very strong about that."
The ads were produced by international direct-marketing agency In Clover Marketing, based in Los Angeles. The agency, which recently opened an office in Mexico City, has also worked on advertising projects for DIRECTV, Mitsubishi Motors of America, Pennzoil Quaker State and Guthy-Renker, among others.