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Why Hormel's Jennie-O Brand Is Promoting Weight Loss

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Hormel Foods is breaking a campaign for its Jennie-O brand, promoting healthy eating and weight loss. The launch corresponds with the eighth season premiere of NBC’s The Biggest Loser tonight (Tuesday).

Dubbed “Be Well,” the campaign is part of Hormel's strategy to position Jennie-O as an affordable, lean protein option in tough economic times. Consumers have cut back on more expensive cuts of meat to save money on grocery shopping, and the company is using that as an opportunity to pitch its products. Lean ground beef, for instance, is priced at a 25 to 30 percent premium above lean ground turkey, said Cris Eide, marketing director at Hormel Foods’ Jennie-O Turkey Store. (The latter was the result of a merger between Hormel Foods’ Jennie-O brand and The Turkey Store Company in Feb. 2001.)

An ad breaking tonight shows how a father and son, Michael and Ron Morrelli, lost more than 400 pounds combined. “We started exercising and eating better with lean protein, like Jennie-O Turkey,” Ron explains. The two are former contestants on The Biggest Loser, which is mentioned at the end of the spot, asking viewers to tune into the show.

Another spot, “Shoelaces,” opens with a man describing his wish to “own a pair of shoes with laces" before he lost weight thanks to Jennie-O's products. Both spots end with a lineup of “all the great-tasting ways to eat lighter” and show salads, wraps and recipes made using Jennie-O meats.

Hormel Foods is running the spots in 11 major markets during major network shows like ABC’s Desperate Housewives, CBS’s Two and a Half Men and Fox’s Glee. BBDO, Minneapolis, oversaw creative duties, and Chicago’s PHD handled media buying for the launch.

The campaign is a departure from previous Jennie-O ads, which talked about the versatility and variety of its products, Eide said. Now, “[we’re focusing on] the role it can play in health and wellness. It’s about personal transformation, and the role our products can play in that,” Eide added.

Jennie-O is also getting the word out via e-newsletters to subscribers, as well as product placements on The Biggest Loser show (the brand is a fifth season sponsor).

Hormel’s Jennie-O brand includes turkey burgers, seasoned and unseasoned breast meat and a breakfast line of sausages. Hormel spent $2 million advertising Jennie-O (excluding online), per Nielsen. The brand is a household favorite among women ages 25-54, primarily those who are “concerned about feeding their family well and [incorporating] healthy products into their family’s diets,” Eide said.