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CRN and DSEA Launch Campaigns to Enhance Image of Dietary Supplement Industry
By Courtney Cavaliere

Two influential organizations recently developed campaigns to highlight the mainstream appeal and benefits of dietary supplements (DS). The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) has organized a public relations campaign titled “Life . . . supplemented” that began in September of 2007, and the Dietary Supplement Education Alliance (DSEA) has organized a paid media initiative titled “Just Like Me” that was slated to begin in October of 2007.

CRN’s multi-year, multi-million dollar campaign began with the establishment of a “Life . . . supplemented” Web site (www. This consumer-oriented Web site, which is also accessible from the CRN Web site, includes a tool to help visitors develop a personal wellness regimen that includes DS, a healthy diet, and exercise.

“With more than 150 million Americans using supplements each year to promote good health and well-being, these products are extremely mainstream,” said Judy Blatman, CRN’s vice-president of communications (e-mail, August 24, 2007).* “It makes good sense that people incorporate supplements into their lifestyle along with the other healthy things they’re doing. The site will be science-backed but will focus more on the lifestyle aspects—the ‘whys and hows’ of using supplements—rather than focusing on the ‘study du jour’.”

CRN’s campaign will also include consumer research projects. The campaign’s first research project, announced in September, involves a survey of health practitioners, which is intended to gain information about health practitioners’ personal use of DS and how such use may impact their advice to patients about DS.2

The first year of the campaign, with a budget of just over $1 million, is being funded by 25 companies in the DS industry. “We are still happy to bring additional companies on board to the project, but those funds would go toward year two of the program,” Blatman explained. “In fact, we’re already raising funds for year two and I’m pleased to advise we have two companies already committed to year two. Once we launch the program and companies have an opportunity to really see what it’s all about and to see the results, we believe we’ll be able to raise even more in year two than was raised in year one.” CRN has partnered with the public relations and marketing firm CRT/tanaka in developing and initiating this campaign.1

Meanwhile, DSEA, an alliance of stakeholders in the DS industry that includes suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, and communications professionals, has sponsored the creation of a television commercial for its “Just Like Me” campaign, which was planned to run in 3 test markets (Jacksonville, Florida, Hartford/ New Haven, Connecticut, and Green Bay, Wisconsin) during October and November.3,4 The commercial features several vignettes with positive portrayals of DS users. DSEA unveiled the commercial in July of 2007 at the Efficient Consumer Response Management (ECRM) conference in Jacksonville, FL, the NBJ Newport Summit in Dana Point, California, and the Natural Products Associations’ Natural Marketplace convention in Las Vegas, Nevada. Elliot Balbert, past president of DSEA and executive chairman of Natrol, stated that the audience’s response to the commercial was outstanding: “They were so excited that they’re still standing and applauding in the aisles,” he said in August (oral communication, August 1, 2007).

According to Balbert, in the 3 test markets “the commercial will air over a 6-week period with very aggressive reach and frequency.” Over 1,600 “Just Like Me” commercials, in 30-second and 60second versions, were expected to be broadcast in the test cities. These commercials were to appear during network programs, and they were expected to reach nearly 97% of the viewing audience due to frequency. According to Balbert, the commercial is expected to obtain over 21 million advertising impressions in the test cities. The commercial includes an offer for consumers to call a phone number or go to a Web site where they can obtain over $100-worth of coupons for DS products. Local retailers in the test cities will compile market data for DS take-away sales during the trial period to help assess the effectiveness of the commercial.

DSEA also planned a national campaign for October and November to promote the same offer included in the television commercial through radio programs, print publications, and other mediums. By late August, 15 publications—including Better Nutri tion, Taste for Life, Total Health, Alternative Medicine, Vegetarian Times, Prevention, and Delicious—had agreed to run full-scale ads or facsimiles in their October or November issues to promote the campaign. Balbert stated that the combined circulation for the publications is 7 million. Furthermore, several of the publications planned to run the ads multiple times, meaning that they would generate even greater media impressions. Altogether, it has been estimated that 30 to 40 million advertising impressions will result from the combined print, television, and radio ads throughout DSEA’s “Just Like Me” media initiative. DSEA also planned to coordinate with DS retailers, distributors, and manufacturers during those months, encouraging them to offer their own sales.

DSEA first announced the campaign in February 2007, and the program has received funding from a wide variety of organizations including suppliers, manufacturers, retailers, publishers, and others.5 According to Balbert, the consortium of supporters for the “Just Like Me” campaign represents about 150 companies. “This is a campaign for everyone in the dietary supplement channel,” said Balbert. “We’ve been getting great support! So many people want to help.” He added that, “The DSEA is extremely bullish over what they feel will be a positive outcome.”

*DSEA collated data from the Nutrition Business Journal and the Natural Marketing Institute before initiating its campaign; this data indicates that 180 million adults use dietary supplements.

  1. Council for Responsible Nutrition launches industry-wide public relations lifestyle initiative [press release]. Washington DC: Council for Responsible Nutrition; June 18, 2007.
  2. New study will assess healthcare professionals’ personal use of dietary supplements [press release]. Washington, DC: Council for Responsible Nutrition; September 20, 2007.
  3. DSEA “just like me” television commercial wraps in LA [press release]. Sarasota, FL: Dietary Supplement Education Alliance; July 2, 2007.
  4. “Just like me” marketing and ad campaign: first ever industry-backed paid advertising initiative set to launch. AHPA Report. July 2007:14.
  5. “Just like me” advertising campaign introduced by DSEA, applauded by industry [press release]. Sarasota, FL: Dietary Supplement Education Alliance; February 6, 2007.