Dear Colleagues:

One of the hottest themes in U.S. marketing today is Americans' interest in and fixation on health - their own and their families. Some companies live and breathe health and wellness marketing, driven by their mission and product or service mix. Others have dived into this arena by positioning their companies as meeting healthy lifestyle preferences. And there are new entrants every day developing products, services, information or other approaches to meet growing consumer demand for pro-health resources, while generating revenue.

This issue of Marketing Coach is the first in a series of editions that will feature companies, products and services that address one or more of these health-focused approaches to tapping into this multi-billion dollar consumer market. We kick-off with an in-depth look at the television phenomenon, The Biggest Loser. This NBC property entered the reality TV race with a program that has captivated Americans for 9 seasons and spun off dozens of licenses, multi-media and informational tools.

Special thanks to NBC senior management who took the time to respond to my questions: Kim Niemi, Senior Vice President, NBC Universal Television, DVD, Music and Consumer Products Group, Adam Stotsky, President, Marketing, NBC Entertainment and Joni Camacho, Director of Marketing for NBC Universal Television, DVD, Music and Consumer Products Group.

I am sure you will find The Biggest Loser marketing strategy to be inspired, as well as relevant to your health related marketing approach and beyond.



To grow and remain relevant The Biggest Loser product brand will need to ensure we speak to the average American searching to improve their health, who may need to lose 10 lbs. to 50 lbs. vs. the drastically obese."


Biggest Loser, Marketing Giant

Hot Timely Idea, Fast Big Brand

What top 3 factors do you attribute to The Biggest Loser TV show's success?
Authentic entertainment, human interest, and the general knowledge that in American society we struggle with weight and healthy living.

What is the marketing philosophy of the show?
The marketing philosophy is to connect with our viewers on a human level. Sometimes the most entertaining stories are also the most inspiring.

What is the marketing innovation that drives The Biggest Loser's success?
The consumer products line has found success by creating the tools that make the healthy lifestyle promoted on the show/by the trainers, accessible and possible not only for show viewers who need to lose weight, but everyone and anyone with weight to lose, be it 100 lbs or 10 lbs.

Who is the show's target audience? How/has it changed since the show began airing?
Demographically, it's an 18-49 year-old target with a strong female skew. More importantly the show targets a demographic of people who are looking for personal motivation and are entertained by the inspiration Biggest Loser provides.

How would you describe the marketing challenge to sustain and grow the brand?
The biggest challenge is staying true to the show's message. Keeping the messaging about the weight loss journey and process as opposed to the myriad of "quick fixes" currently on the market. To grow and remain relevant The Biggest Loser product brand will need to ensure we speak to the average American searching to improve their health, who may need to lose 10 lbs. to 50 lbs. vs. the drastically obese. A healthy lifestyle works for everyone - and that will continue to be our message. Licensed promotions are something we're looking to increasingly to extend our reach at retail with a variety of partners.

Trainers, Contestants As Marketers

Where does the branding of the trainers (Bob and Jillian) and the brand The Biggest Loser begin and end? Restated: how integral are the trainers and their images to the show brand and what are the distinct characteristics of the show's brand versus these key components?
The trainers are the face of the show. They are the constants on a show in which the entire cast changes around them each season. Many viewers have a loyalty to either Bob or Jillian. But, as the show continues and their individual popularity grows, both Bob and Jillian are pursuing product lines and healthy lifestyle platforms under their own names.

The show branding and the show product branding is The Biggest Loser with both Bob and Jillian together (and some former contestants). What Bob and/or Jillian do as individuals is never show-branded and reflects a personal philosophy rather than a comprehensive philosophy that Biggest Loser captures through a variety of experts.

There may be some confusion with consumers when there is overlap between Biggest Loser branded products and what a trainer may do on their own, but we work to mitigate confusion with strong show branding guidelines and "As seen on" tying everything back to "The Biggest Loser lifestyle" that consumers have come to know from watching the show.

How are the contestants/winners leveraged in the marketing mix?
Former contestants that resonate with the viewing audience (regardless of the number of pounds ultimately lost) are leveraged in a variety of ways from inclusion on product packaging and paid product endorsement to PR appearances and online blogging and testimonials.

How is that the same or different for the marketing philosophy/strategy for additional products with the show's brand name?
The Biggest Loser brand is the primary component, the connection to talent, trainers, doctors, nutritionists etc., comes in on a product-by-product basis as is appropriate or beneficial to the license.

The Biggest Loser Product Mix Drivers

What was the first product or service licensed or created as a line extension of the TV show?
The books were the very first license with Rodale, and Lionsgate shortly thereafter.

What are the criteria for selecting products for The Biggest Loser brand?
There must be something inherently "Biggest Loser" about each product; meaning it must be a tool for living the healthy lifestyle, ultimately leading to a better understanding of fitness and health or be a tool to aid in the pursuit of that healthier lifestyle. Basically, consumers are looking for an extension of what they see on The Biggest Loser show each week.

Two new products are: 1) The Biggest Loser Resort - weight loss resort providing a ranch-like schedule of workouts, nutrition and counseling, and 2) KYN: The Know Your Number HealthScore - a health assessment test that gives consumers a glimpse into the state of their current health and how that plays into their risk of falling victim to the nation's top 3 preventable diseases (heart disease, stroke and diabetes). This is the exact same test given to the contestants by Dr. Huizenga each season - now available direct to consumers for the first time.

What products are launching or have new versions coming out in 2010?
A new version of the The Biggest Loser video game, a clothing line, bake ware, a new Rodale book and additional flavors of The Biggest Loser protein drink by Designer Whey.

For a list of Biggest Loser branded products visit

Media-Product Integration

How is the TV show leveraged to market show branded merchandise/ products/services?
We are able to leverage the show by including promotion spots for our branded products (stand alone product features with a call to action to visit for more information) or via organic placement of products on the set (e.g. Biggest Loser exercise equipment is used by the contestants in the gym or Biggest Loser appliances in the kitchen). Occasionally, our products are mentioned on the show, which is always good.

What are the key marketing channels used to promote the products (i.e. web, TV, retail partners)? Did I miss any key components to your marketing mix?

We utilize on-air; on-line, our website dedicated solely to The Biggest Loser products; (show site and online ad buys); licensee marketing/promotion and retail partners. We just finished a licensed promotion in Walmart with Starter and Danskin workout clothing under Biggest Loser branding that came out of a show integration.

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