NutraSweet Gets 'Swirl' Back, Plans Relaunch With Domino

The NutraSweet "swirl" is returning home to its parent, the NutraSweet Company. And the Chicago-based maker of aspartame-based sweeteners is relaunching the product via an alliance with American Sugar Refining, Inc., which owns Domino sugar products.

The deal means that the quarter-century-old NutraSweet name and logo, which for the past seven years has been licensed to Merisant Worldwide, also based in Chicago, will be spotlighted via a new integrated campaign this summer.

NutraSweet's deal with Domino, which will share in marketing and handle distribution, also includes a forthcoming line of sweeteners and sweetener/sugar blends.

NutraSweet CEO Craig Petray, who says the alliance with American Sugar is long-term, told Marketing Daily that he sees an opportunity globally for a renewed push for NutraSweet. The company, which also makes another sweetener, neotame, sells more sweeteners worldwide than any other company, though much of the volume is for constituent use in gum, soft drinks and other products.



Petray says marketing duties will be split between American Sugar and NutraSweet: "We each have a few marketing people on a team with separate teams managing day-to-day activities."

The sweetener market, split among Sweet'n Low, NutraSweet, Splenda, and Equal, has had its moments of contention. In 2000, Monsanto sold aspartame, branded as NutraSweet, to J.W. Childs Equity Partners for $440 million. That year, entrant Splenda, marketed by Johnson & Johnson subsidiary McNeil Nutritionals, began its climb to market leader.

Merisant, maker of Equal since the early 1980s sued, saying McNeil was making false claims in its suggestion that Splenda was made from sugar. The conflict was recently settled.

The other market force--and the oldest--is the Sweet'n Low brand of saccharine, marketed by New York-based Sugar Foods Corporation. Petray says that, while the alliance with American Sugar will produce a range of products, "The low-hanging fruit is improving NutraSweet product, but there's a whole other area of hybrid blends of sugar and and sweeteners."

He says the new campaign, timed with the expiration of the license that gave Mirasant rights seven years ago to market aspartame with the NutraSweet name and swirl logo, puts NutraSweet, the company, back in the driver's seat in terms of marketing its eponymous sweetener to consumers. "We will take it," says Petray, "and improve it. Ninety percent of people in the U.S. know NutraSweet, so it has great awareness."

"Domino is a great partner; they have the leading sugar brands in America with a great distribution system, so anywhere you look for sweeteners, Domino will be there." He says the effort includes a forthcoming web site,, and that ad duties will be handled by St. Louis-based Black Twig Communications, which does advertising duties for Domino Foods.

"You will see an effective, integrated campaign," Petray says. "We will be very innovative. It's no longer about just buying TV and that's it. We are developing, right now, innovative ways of letting consumers know these products have a taste advantage, that it's new, improved and tastes far better than alternatives on the market."

Next story loading loading..