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Have you ever considered taking a “Biggest Loser” cruise? What about buying a Telemundo-branded piece of jewelry? According to Kim Niemi, senior vice president of NBCUniversal Television, DVD, Music and Consumer Products Group, fans crave these kinds of touch points, which is why her group’s approach to developing merchandising based on NBCUniversal’s programming content is working. 

Whether it’s “The Office,” “Minute to Win It,” shows on USA Network, or shows on the Syfy channel, Niemi and her team, which includes Joni Camacho, marketing director, look at basic contributing factors to decide which direction to take their licensing approach. From the genre they’re in to the pop culture elements with immediate licensing opportunities, shows’ strengths (which Niemi calls ownable characteristics) are what draw fans to look for more than what they see on TV. 

“We identify properties that have those characteristics or are well established—in their second or third season—and solidified with the audience so we can grow the merchandising and licensing portfolios,” she said.

Beyond TV

In business, great ideas are nothing without results, which is why both Niemi and Camacho know the work they’ve put into NBCUniversal Television Consumer Products Group has been worth it. In 2010, the group saw 88% growth in CPG sales. In addition, the group’s speed-to-market increased. 

But beyond pushing product, NBCUniversal analyzes the audiences watching its shows and looks to see what it can do to enrich their lives. “The Biggest Loser,” which is currently in its 11th season, is a good example. This November, NBCUniversal is inviting fans to jump on its Biggest Loser Experience Cruise, which will feature trainer Bob Harper as a keynote speaker. 

The seven-day adventure will offer guests an educational and guilt-free vacation aboard Celebrity Cruise’s Celebrity Eclipse ocean liner. Guests will start their round-trip travels in Miami, Fla. and head to San Juan, Puerto Rico; Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas; and Philipsburg, St. Maarten. Rather than tempting guests with delicious but fattening foods, participants will enjoy several days of delicious low-calorie meal options and will be able to order “Biggest Loser”-approved meal selections, while their family members may order off the regular menu if they wish. 

The Biggest Loser Experience Cruise guests will engage in special exercise classes, health and wellness lectures, and cooking demonstrations. The aim of this cruise, and of Harper’s keynote speech, is to discuss exercise, healthy living, motivation, and roadblocks to success. 

“The biggest obstacles to healthy living are the bad habits we fall into over the years,” said Harper. “We hope that people will jump at the chance to take a fun vacation and learn about how easy it is to adopt a healthy, active lifestyle.”

“The Biggest Loser Experience Cruise is a unique vacation in that it offers both individuals and families a wealth of health and fitness information from some of the best experts in the field set against a beautiful Caribbean backdrop,” said Camacho. “Cruisers will come home rested, relaxed, and armed with the best tools to start living a healthy lifestyle.”

It takes a team

That’s not to say that consumer products aren’t key to promoting a show like “The Biggest Loser.” Since debuting in 2004, “The Biggest Loser” has grown to become a standalone health and lifestyle brand, and NBCUniversal has developed tools and products inspired by the show and approved by its doctors and experts to keep the momentum going. 

The online, subscription-based extension of the show, Biggestloserclub.com, from Rodale anchors “The Biggest Loser” consumer products program, which has generated more $150 million in spending with presence at more than 25,000 major retailers to date. The program features a wide variety of health and fitness products, including The Biggest Loser video game for Wii and Nintendo DS & DSi; The Biggest Loser Resort at Fitness Ridge, which is a full-service, destination health & fitness spa; The Biggest Loser Meal 

Plan; a New York Times best-selling books series; a best-selling fitness DVD series; a line of appliances; and products such as fitness equipment and protein supplements. 

This April, NBCUniversal teamed up with Walgreens to introduce an exclusive line of “The Biggest Loser”-branded meal replacement products. In May, protein-rich shakes and bars developed with the guidance of the show’s nutrition doctor, Dr. Michael Dansinger, appeared in more than 7,600 Walgreens nationwide.

“We created these outstanding protein shakes and bars specifically for people who want to harness the power of natural foods and ingredients,” said Dansinger. “These meal supplements can be used to maintain a healthy body weight, stay strong, and live life to the fullest. We know that people will find them to be a satisfying and practical way to help them meet their health goals.”

“We offer a broad selection of consumables for our health-conscious customers, and these products provide a ‘good-for-you’ alternative at a very competitive price,” said Bryan Pugh, Walgreens vice president of merchandising. “The addition of this line is also a nice complement to the many health and wellness programs and initiatives we’re bringing to our stores to help consumers stay well.”

The company behind the TV show, Reveille LLC, licenses the shakes and bars along with NBCUniversal, and as with anything carrying the show’s brand, all products are designed to promote a healthier lifestyle. For example, the shakes contain 10 grams of protein, are high in fiber, and contain vitamin D, vitamin C, calcium, and 22 additional vitamins and minerals. The meal replacement bars contain 10 grams of protein and a half serving of fruit each and are available in four flavors: banana nut bread, chocolatey coconut, cinnamon apple turnover, and peanut butter chocolate chip. 

Understanding it takes a team to bring a concept to life, NBCUniversal is working with Boomerang Brands as the brand management company to bring “The Biggest Loser” products to market for Walgreens, and JTMG is the agency representative for NBC programming. Both companies continue to be involved in ongoing marketing initiatives and growth. 

“We worked very closely with Dr. Dansinger, Boomerang Brands, and Walgreens to achieve a meal replacement product line with high nutritional standards without compromising on taste,” said Niemi. “The result is a delicious line of shakes and bars that we know will help people adopt a healthier lifestyle.”