Brands and Portals to Users: Shed the Holiday Weight

Each January countless holiday-bloated Americans make resolutions to diet, and this year several portals are teaming with brands to keep the energy going on weight loss.

To promote the current season of “Biggest Loser,” NBC paired with MSN to create the “Million Pound Match-Up” site. The promotion coincides with the reality show’s current season, which has lets users create diet pacts with spouses, friends, or other family members. Each duo must use Windows Live Spaces to chronicle their attempts to drop pounds. Participants can share their ups and downs, post pictures, video, and tell their story. Five winners will be announced in March, and each will win a trip to Los Angeles to attend the season finale soon after.

A second contest lets users pledge how much weight they want to lose. The site includes a trivia quiz, and “Biggest Loser” contestants provide tips and tricks for achieving weight loss goals. Users sign up for a daily drawing of a Zune player and a final prize of a trip for two to a luxury spa.

Why two distinct opportunities to participate? “We hear from our customers they like a variety of things,” said Karin Muskopf, MSN production manager at Microsoft. “We’re looking for things that will drive deeper engagement.” She said creating a Space is not for everyone, so the less public alternative of using the site to get information works for that group.

In addition to promotion during the broadcast, the contest will be plugged on MSN and on NBC’s “Biggest Loser” site. NBC and MSN have a five-city mall tour taking place each weekend between January 12 and February 10 in target cities Chicago, IL; Wichita, KS; Phoenix, AZ; Houston, TX; and Miami, FL.

In its bid for dieters, AOL launched its twice annual refresh of AOL Body’s free diet site “America Takes it Off” with Slim-Fast participating as the exclusive sponsor. “Our goal is to help Americans lead happier, healthier lives,” said Tanya Mancini, AOL Body director at AOL. “It’s about living a healthy lifestyle.” The site’s new theme, “Choose Your Resolution,” gives participants the opportunity to choose between what AOL calls simple solutions or tougher challenges.

Slim-Fast was also the exclusive sponsor of the diet site that launched over the summer. “This is a program we’ve been running twice a year for several years, and advertisers have responded strongly,” said Mancini.

The site contains content from Prevention Magazine, through a partnership with Rodale. It is also filled with editorial packages and other exclusive content. Health and fitness expert Jillian Michaels, AOL Body coach and trainer on “Biggest Loser” provides much of the video content with tips and help on diet and fitness topics.

AOL will promote “America Takes it Off” through editorial features on AOL.com and banner advertising developed by an in-house marketing department. Rodale may provide additional traffic through promotion on its Prevention Web site.

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