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Star Power

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK —More new companies are breaking into the consumer packaged goods scene with a big celebrity name in the wings—celebrities that, in their pitch, lend instant credibility to the products, and hopefully, lure droves of fans to buy them.

But celebrity endorsers don’t come cheap, and the bigger the name, the bigger the endorsement pricetag. To help alleviate those costs, not only are many new companies signing celebrities as product endorsers, but they’re signing them as investors as well.

That’s what new-to-the-game company Mainstream Ventures did when it signed urban megastar Nelly as part-owner of the company. For a company pitching an energy drink—a growing category quickly becoming inundated with new-to-the-trade companies looking to capitalize—Nelly certainly lends a certain level of street cred to the company’s energy brand ZizZazz.

Soon after bringing Nelly on board as celebrity co-owner, ZizZazz presented its own energy-drink innovation to the trade—a tube powder drink mix available in four flavors that can either be mixed with a bottle of water or poured right onto the tongue.

“It’s rare in this channel to launch a new category and product with the level of consumer marketing that this company has committed to,” said Calvin Johnson, Acosta director of sales planning, in announcing that Acosta would be Mainstream’s national distributor of ZizZazz.

Human Performance Labs introduced its PureSport Workout and Recovery sports nutrition products in July, and then watched as part-owner Michael Phelps dominated Olympic swimming a month later with a record-setting eight gold medals. Not only does Phelps’ endorsement lend credibility to the product, but in a sports nutrition industry trying to shake a reputation that its products are not synonymous with performance enhancement or steroids. Phelps also serves as walking testimony to the product’s purity.

Flex-Power is coming to market with a whole team of celebrity endorsers. Flex-Power’s star power may even outshine Nelly and Phelps, with almost 40 professional athlete investors, including Jason Kidd, captain of the U.S. Olympic gold-winning basketball team.

The product, a topical analgesic rub, has a significant point of differentiation—a penetrating, unscented cream that delivers MSM, glucosamine and the active ingredient trolamine salicylate deeper into the muscles through a patented nanotech cream. Flex-Power plans to extend its line in the coming year with the introduction of an active woman formulation and an arthritis cream product for older consumers.

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Winn-Dixie completes 100th store remodel

BY Michael Johnsen

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. Less than 18 months after announcing a major remodel initiative for all of its 521 stores, Winn-Dixie Stores, on Thursday announced the completion of remodel No. 100.

The newest remodeled store, in the Miami suburb of Hialeah, is celebrating its grand opening today.

The Hialeah store showcases the company’s fresh and local strategic initiative—an updated storefront, combined with expanded produce and floral departments. The store’s deli and bakery were upgraded with a wood-burning rotisserie and bread warmer, a wing bar, an olive bar and a specialty dessert case. The store also features new energy-efficient refrigerators and frozen food cases as well as new wood flooring and a contemporary color palette.

“This is not only a milestone for our Company, but it also symbolizes the hard work and dedication of our associates and the loyalty of our customers,” stated Peter Lynch, Winn-Dixie’s chairman, chief executive officer and president. “It’s all about being fresh and local—from our decor to our merchandising and marketing initiatives, we are tailoring every detail of our remodeled stores to meet the needs of neighborhoods we serve. As the remodel program moves forward, we will have a significantly stronger store base from which to compete and leverage the strength of our brand. We plan to remodel half the chain by June 2010.”

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Longs to carry GE digital cameras

BY Michael Johnsen

TORRANCE, Calif. Already distributed through Walgreens, General Imaging, the worldwide exclusive licensee for GE digital cameras, may be getting a foot in the door with CVS with Thursday’s announcement that its retail camera line is to be picked up by Longs Drug beginning in October.

Under the agreement, Longs stores will stock three models—the A730 Black, the A835 Black and the A1030 Red.

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