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How the Atkins Diet brand was rebuilt

How the Atkins Diet brand was rebuilt

Best practice from Tangerine PR.


Generating press coverage was always going to be challenging due to the previous bad press associated with the diet and because the snack bars were not new.
- Focus on the improved elements of the diet and new scientific backing from research in the US
- Build consumer awareness of the new improved diet, ‘Atkins Nutritional Approach’, and the new reformulated snack bars
- Show the possible weight loss benefits of replacing other snacks with Atkins snack bars
- Tap into the annual enthusiasm for diets and healthy eating associated with New Year
- Drive traffic (new and repeat) to retail stockists
- Increase listings of the Atkins product range
- Increase website hits
- Create an excitement and buzz around the brand
- Protect Atkins against any backlash and negative publicity


Tangerine used the US research, by The Journal of the American Medical Association, which ranked the new Atkins plan as the number one approach for overall weight loss in a 2007 NIH (National Institutes of Health) funded study.

The result of this two year study proved Atkins to be the most effective in achieving weight loss through trials, as well as supporting cardiovascular health with improved cholesterol profile results.

Atkins has received very negative press in the past, from bad side effects and health issues along with the founder, Robert Atkins, dying of an apparent heart-related issue.

Tangerine was also faced with the potential problem that the publishers of the New Atkins book in the US would launch the Atkins ‘come back’ to the UK national press first. This could have had a serious impact on the official Atkins UK launch, with journalists possibly refusing to cover it again.

Tangerine originally planned to launch the campaign at the end of December, to benefit from the seasonal ‘New Years’s resolution’ impetus for dieting after the Christmas holidays.

However, due to the US launch of the diet, the official UK launch press trip was brought forward to October and carried out with 20 key media to avoid the campaign being leaked to journalists.

The team created a bespoke diet plan and guide for each publication, which overcame the exclusivity issues that each title requested.

The main focus of the press trip, sell-ins and copy was to focus on the improvements in the diet, proven health benefits and the scientific backing. Working very closely with journalists, Tangerine provided feature themes, clear nutritional information and expert comments.

Tangerine recruited case studies, aged 20–45, to trial and administer the diet and products for four weeks, to help provide evidence that the diet and products really worked.

Before and after pictures were taken of the case studies and they logged a daily food diary and had weekly weight-ins to record progress. Tangerine also challenged journalists to become case studies, offering the snack bars and a customised meal planner.


Atkins thought it would have an A-list celebrity to offer for media purposes, but unfortunately this was not possible. Instead, Tangerine researched celebrities who were keen followers of the diet in the past, which included Jennifer Aniston and Rene Zellweger, and ran an Atkins nostalgia campaign looking back at celebrities who had been associated with the diet.

A hamper of snack bars was also sent to Cheryl Cole, who later revealed in Vogue that she was a loyal follower of the Atkins diet, which furthered the media frenzy and excitement surrounding the campaign.

The campaign ticked all the boxes as it included science, celebrities and real life case studies. The celebrities made the campaign newsworthy, the science added respect and believability, while the case studies provided physical evidence. The combination of all three elements worked extremely well together and eliminated the potential ‘fad’ diet image.

Evaluation and Measurement

The below targets were agreed in advance, taking into consideration that every national newspaper had already covered the launch of the New Atkins book:
- 3 national newspaper hits
- 7 national glossy magazines
- 5 regional
- 5 trade


The campaign finished at the end of December and Tangerine more than trebled its agreed targets by securing the following coverage:
- 19 national newspaper hits (including News of the World, Daily Mirror and a front cover and double page spread campaign in the Daily Mail over four consecutive days)
- 14 glossy magazines (including high end titles such as Hello, Grazia, Look and Now)
- 8 regional
- 5 trade
- The health plan was successful with the volunteers losing an average of 18 pounds each
- There was no negative coverage
- The return on investment (ROI) was £331:1
- Total circulation was 34,054,064
- Website hits more than doubled and increased from 6,586 hits at the start of the campaign to an average of 15,250 hits at the peak of the campaign
- 1,459,670 Atkins bars were sold over the 3 month campaign period
- The range was increased in Boots and Tesco’s started listing the products.

Cost Effectiveness

The campaign was very cost effective with the client receiving a return on investment of £331 for every one pound spent and a circulation of over 34 million people.

Tangerine’s creativity with naming celebrities who had previously followed the diet also saved the client having to splash out on a six figure deal for somebody famous to front the campaign.

All of this was achieved within a budget of £17,500 and Tangerine’s rigorous time management meant that it did not over service on the account.

Final Results against Objectives

Tangerine exceeded all expectations with this campaign, smashing and trebling coverage targets, gaining buy-in from sceptical journalists and significantly increasing sales at existing retailers.

Boots increased the shelf space for the bars and Tesco came on board as a retailer, which sold 4,000 multi-packs in the first three days. Furthermore, there were more hits on the Atkins website in the first week of coverage alone than ever before, and figures more than doubled to 15,250 hits at the peak of the campaign.

All coverage was 100% positive. 90% of the national newspaper coverage contained numerous mentions and images of the bars, along with the website details, a meal planner and quotes from the founder of the new Atkins diet.

All glossy magazine coverage ran over double page spreads, some with front page mentions, including case studies, meal planners and many mentions and images of the bars.

Tangerine has set the standard globally and the coverage achieved has resulted in Atkins franchises from all over the world wanting to use the same format as the UK team. Atkins is now a retained client with new products launches planned for 2009.

 “Since day one the team has worked together with great enthusiasm showing enormous passion for the job in hand,” said Director of Atkins International, Peter Valentine.

“This coupled with their expertise has brought astonishing results in a very short space of time, which is a credit to them and a great bonus to the re-launch of Atkins in the UK.”

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