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Ad Buyers Bulk Up Spending As Consumers Diet
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Ad Buyers Bulk Up Spending As Consumers Diet

With 2009 underway, so, too, is the race for millions of Americans to meet their New Year’s resolutions. Whether it’s trimming love handles, lowering cholesterol, or stomping out cigarettes for good, consumers are more likely to sample new products and services that help them practice healthier habits. And advertisers are especially eager to help.

The first month of the year is not surprisingly the most popular advertising month for these “resolution” companies. Last January, they spent over $181 million on advertising for products and services related to weight loss and smoking deterrents. That month’s figure was 23% higher than any other month’s spend through the first three quarters of 2008.

Historically, monthly spending on ads for diet, fitness, and smoking deterrent products and services held the same pattern. Like 2008, spending was most heavy in the first quarter of both 2006 and 2007:

TOTAL AD SPENDING ON WEIGHT LOSS, FITNESS, AND SMOKING DETERRENT PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

A list of the top spenders in this category from 2007 (the last full year that data is available) shows that NutriSystem paid the most for advertising with $209.4 million. Next on the list was GlaxoSmithKline ($171.3 million), whose expenditures shot up over 100% in ’07, thanks to the introduction of its new weight-reducing aid, Alli.

The list also includes several unfamiliar parent companies who promote some very familiar brands. Artal Luxembourg, owners of the Weight Watchers franchise, dropped almost $107 million on advertising in 2007. And Iovate, the company behind Hydroxycut, put $83 million toward advertising in 2007.

Other parent companies flexing their ad muscles in 2007 include Nestle (makers of PowerBar) and Harbinger Capital Partners (owners of Bally’s Fitness clubs), each with expenditures approaching $67 million. Unilever, parent company for the Slim-Fast brand, spent almost $40 million.

Surging its way into 2007’s top ten was Western Holdings LLC, whose Akavar weight loss pill infiltrated U.S. markets from Europe thanks to a $38.3 million ad spend.

Rank Advertiser 2007 Ad Spend (millions) % Change 2007 vs. 2006
1 NUTRI/SYSTEM INC $209.4 21%
2 GLAXOSMITHKLINE PLC $171.3 107%
3 ARTAL LUXEMBOURG SA $106.7 47%
4 IOVATE HEALTH SCIENCES GROUP INC $83.5 -14%
5 NESTLE SA $66.6 16%
6 HARBINGER CAPITAL PARTNERS $66.6 -13%
7 LA WEIGHT LOSS CTRS INC $64.3 -18%
8 UNILEVER $40.0 -23%
9 WESTERN HOLDINGS LLC $38.3 1294%
10 NXLABS INC $30.0 15%
Source: The Nielsen Company (2009).