Marketing the ‘Magic Pill’ – A consumer’s perspective

The Magic Pill

As I’ve embarked on the ever-so-challenging journey of weight loss, I’ve become more and more aware of diverse advertising efforts of different types of slim gimmicks (as I’ve fondly named them) on the market. I am talking about all the supplements, shakes & diet pills out there, competing for your attention with promises of fast results with little to no effort. Naturally, as a marketer, my interest was piqued.

I found myself asking these questions:

1. How does one market such ‘miracle helpers’ to the common consumer?

2. What role do they actually play in a person’s path towards a healthier being?

Let’s take diet pills for example. The average consumer of diet pills, according to an official report of the US Federal Trade Commission in 2002, is, or perceives himself to be, overweight, leads a semi-static way of life and has in almost all cases previously attempted (and/or failed at) weight-loss. The report also states that there has been a significant continuous rise in multi-media advertising campaigns for weight-loss solutions in the last 20 years or so. This means that an average consumer is likely to be exposed to such advertising on a daily basis and is more likely to buy it, thus turning ‘magic pills’ into a multi-billion dollar industry.

But what types of messages does that industry use to draw us in?

In most cases, false or unethically reported product results are used to promote extreme weight loss attributed entirely to the pill. However, in the fine print of most pills I’ve found on the market, it also states that product experiments have been conducted in accordance with a balanced nutritional diet and regular exercise. Naturally, a person is left under the impression that the pill does all the work, which might not be the case. Customer testimonials, on the other hand, deploy a different tactic of consumer-to-consumer communication, creating the sense of trust in the product, building around the old idea of peer pressure marketing. In most circumstances however, these come in the form of a copy-paste template blog of the ‘amazing transformation’ of a specific individual, frequently developed by the company producing the pills. After all of this mesh of advertising push, it’s as if we are almost instantly conditioned to associate diet pills with great results and the vision of a slimmer self. Now, I don’t mean to discredit all products on the market, but I do believe the hype around them has in a sense been artificially built.

What do diet pills actually provide consumers with?

With all that in mind, I believe diet pills do the exact job they are designed for – they provide a sense of security and an additional motivational mechanism in a person’s journey for weight loss. I personally am taking a certain brand of slim aids, but I do so to compliment my already established nutritional regime and exercise routine. For me, the pill provides the notion of direction and the desire to carry on with this endeavor. The effect might be purely psychological, and I am ready to acknowledge it as such, because it serves the purpose of continuously motivating me to go forward.

So for anybody out there who is trying their best to better their health and well-being by losing weight please keep in mind that we, the big bad marketers, will always try to lure you in with promises of incredible product features and fast results. Beware of how much you decide to rely on a pill to assist in your situation. If it is used in the right way, a diet pill or supplement may give you (psychologically and physically) that little extra push you need to start your journey. The decision should be yours and yours only.


Teddy T


It’s not a race, it’s a journey!

Fairly recently, I reached my lowest point in terms of self-image. I weighted a lot of pounds, I kept seeking comfort foods to lighten my daily mood, and worst of all, my laziness was at an all-time high! I don’t’ know if you’ve ever experienced the dread of waking up, looking at yourself in the mirror and not recognizing the person looking back at you. I started searching for diets that promise quick results, pills to help me in my efforts of weight loss, I even read blogs full of advises from exercise gurus… still nothing. It’s a process, an internal struggle that I believe every overweight person (and yes, I am not ashamed to call myself overweight) goes through. I lacked the motivation, and dare I say it, the discipline to stop complaining and do something about it!

Now, there wasn’t an event that miraculously changed my way of thinking overnight, I’ve been building up to this decision for more than two years. I decided that I miss the old me and that only I can bring her back. So my journey began. Almost a month in my new ‘lifestyle’, I feel happier than I’ve been in a long time because I transformed my mind and now my body is slowly starting to catch up. I won’t claim that the following advises will work for you and your weight-loss journey. I’m merely sharing my own rules for a successful transformation, that I believe are helping me achieve a better, healthier me.

diet no1. Diet is a dirty word – In my vocabulary the word ‘diet’ is a big NO NO! This word tricks my brain into thinking that if I can do, for example, 14 days of eating this and that, then I will look and feel amazing, guaranteed! I precondition myself with false expectations that need to be achieved in a limited time frame, which if my body doesn’t manage for some reason, naturally I feel depressed and turn to eating again.  That’s why I threw the word ‘diet’ out the window and I insist on referring to it as a lifestyle choice. It is my choice to transform my life through this process of healthier eating and regular exercise. To stop myself from thinking in time frames, I also keep repeating my mantra: ‘It’s not a race, it’s a journey’!

Open your mind logo2. Shed your mind from the weight, your body will follow – Forget about looking in the mirror every day, pinching little pockets of fat and sighing at the look of your body. This will only weigh on your mind, making you feel like you’ve failed even before you’ve started! Shed yourself from all preconceived notions of the human body. I stopped reading glossy magazines. The women in there for me are simply not realistic representations of the female body. Not to mention most of them are being photo-shopped beyond recognition. It isn’t fair to you to keep comparing yourself with such images. Free your mind of societal body expectations and focus on a realistic goal that you know would make you feel happy in your own skin.

thumbs up3. Find your role-model – I know most good dietitians will tell you that the right reasons for losing weight are if you do it for yourself and nobody else. In a sense, they are very right. You have to acknowledge that you have chosen to do this transformation for your health and yourself only. However, what I’ve noticed keeps me motivated is the fear of letting down not only myself but my loved ones. I have a beautiful and supportive partner in life, whom I always keep in mind while exercising. I want to be the healthiest me I can be not only for myself, but for the both of us. Draw your inspiration from others around you and you will find that you might not be alone in your journey.

scale no4. Bury the scale, clothes are your best friend – This one you’ve probably heard time and time again. Don’t weigh yourself every day! Miracles don’t happen overnight (as much as we wish them to) and your body will not transform with the click of a button. Of course shedding pounds is important for your health and agility, but it shouldn’t be the main way to measure your success. That’s why I like trying on clothes. I have one piece of clothing that I’ve chosen for comparison. I try it once a week and see how it feels on my body. You will be amazed at the confidence boost you will get each week, seeing how different you look in the same outfit!

kick in the butt5. Kick yourself in the butt! – The last advice comes down to purely pushing your mind and body into trying out different things. Always wanted to go to a spinning class? Nothing is stopping you, except YOU! Each day after I wake up I have to kick myself in the butt and give myself the internal motivation to continue with my weight-loss journey. You will soon start to draw incredible joy from trying new things, I know I do!

There’s one more thing I’d like to remind myself of once in a while – I can be my best friend or my worst enemy. The choice is entirely mine and I’ve chosen to continuously work towards a healthier, happier and better me.

What will you choose?


Teddy T

The tribes we lead – online communities and the spread of ‘viral’

This is a fantastic talk by frequent TED contributor Seth Godin. Even in 2009, he saw how social media started changing the way we think as people and as consumers. He talks about the formation of tribe mentalities through the use of social media and the exploitation of the internal human desire for change and leadership. A creative way to think about online communities, co-creational marketing strategies and the effective way to spread a viral campaign.


Teddy T