• About Tom Dougherty

    Tom Dougherty CEO, Stealing Share

    Tom Dougherty is the President and CEO of Stealing Share, Inc., and has helped national and global brands such as Lexus, IKEA and Tide steal market share over his 25-year career.

    An often-quoted source on business and brands, he has been featured recently by the New York Times and CNN, discussing topics ranging from television to Apple to airlines.

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Lean Cuisine brand gets a makeover

If you’re like me, you eat lunch at your desk. For many of us (again, including me), that also means heating up a frozen meal in the microwave because it’s easy.

That’s why it was surprising to me to find that sales of frozen foods in general are dropping and that the leading diet brand, Lean Cuisine, is trying a new approach away from dieting.

Screen Shot 2015-06-29 at 10.19.35 AMIn this first spot, a line is spoken by the narrator (a nurse), “I eat the way I want to eat,” that is an important message that signals an independence that can be attractive to target audiences.

It’s a shift for the Lean Cuisine brand because, as Lean Cuisine Brand Manager Chris Flora said, “We recognize that diets are dead and we want to show that we are truly shifting away from diet.”

Diets may be dead, as Flora puts it, and it’s been replaced by fresh. Some many not associate fresh with frozen foods, although a $30 million campaign by many of the frozen food producers are telling us that frozen is “nature’s pause button.”

The Lean Cuisine brand hasn’t gone far enough.

This is an issue for frozen food producers and Lean Cuisine has recognized that it needs a brand shift. The problem is that Lean Cuisine hasn’t gone all the way. Packaging is new for the brand and the foods it makes will have an overhaul.

But the Lean Cuisine brand, which is owned by Nestle, hasn’t answered the question of what it stands for. Who is the Lean Cuisine eater today? The Lean Cuisine eater was once the one wanting to lose weight. Now?

The “eat the way I want to eat” is smart, but it becomes easily forgettable in how it’s used. It’s not prominent enough, which speaks to the problem with most brand advertising.

Instead, the campaign’s headline is “Feed Your Phenomenal,” which sounds like it was written by Madison Avenue and, therefore, is not believed. “Eat the way I want to eat” is in spoken language and taps into a true emotional value. “Feed Your Phenomenal” is just adspeak.

There’s the other issue, of course. The Lean Cuisine name. As much as Lean Cuisine would like to get away from diet, the name suggests as much. If Lean Cuisine really wants to stem its dropping sales (its sales have dropped 20% in the last two years), its name needs to be different.

Lean Cuisine was correct in making changes (I once ate a lot of Lean Cuisine but got tired of its blandness), but it and its advertising agency, Grey, need to go a few steps farther.

To win, Lean Cuisine needs a new brand. And it needs to stop with the trite “Feed Your Phenomenal.”

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