BrandWeek Covers EBOOST's Beginnings

12 November 2007

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Marketing Agency Gives 'E-Boost' to Its Own Product

Nov 12, 2007 By Kenneth Hein A deal between rapper 50 Cent and the company that was to manufacture his line of supplements fizzled. This left Josh Taekman, who helped broker it, in a lousy mood. He headed over to the Lever House to have a cocktail and complain to the restaurant’s owner and his good friend, John McDonald. McDonald suggested that he and Taekman, who founded his Buzztone marketing agency in 2000, create their own product. Both fans of the popular overseas immunity support Berocca, they decided to create an American version. In April 2007, EBoost was born. The product is a vitamin and mineral packet that supports the immune system and provides energy. EBoost commands a premium of $2 more per 10-pack than Airborne. The challenge was infiltrating the $3.8 billion cough and cold remedy segment, a category where marketers from Advil to Zycam spent $750 million last year, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus. The immunity support niche has gotten particularly competitive. Airborne will hit the airports next month to defend its turf by handing out samples. ImmuneFizz also launched this year and is being sampled at Costco. It sponsors a car in the Nascar Super Stock series and is planning radio and TV for next year, per a company rep. Looking to position EBoost as a fashionable wellness product, Taekman sampled 50,000 packets prior to launch at high-end events like Fashion Week. Samples also popped up on the sets of TV shows and at modeling agencies. Following free giveaways at Equinox and Scoop, both elected to sell EBoost. In January, Air New Zealand will begin offering it in its lounges. It is considering adding it to its first class amenities kit. This summer Buzztone hit local California beaches with aerial banners. The first flew past Malibu the week after Lindsay Lohan was busted for drunk driving. It read: “Hey Lindsay, get boosted, not busted.” “I got to leverage all of the expertise and knowledge that I developed over the years,” said Taekman, who has worked on Red Bull, Bacardi, Sprite and other brands. McDonald did his part, too. The restaurateur slipped a pack to Ross Klein, president of W Hotels Worldwide. By June, EBoost was distributed in all 8,500 rooms in the W’s U.S. properties. He also struck a deal with the Morgan Hotel Group. EBoost is in discussions with a high-end home goods retailer as well. “We’re targeting fashionable venues,” said Taekman. “We don’t want to be in CVS, not now.” The strategy appears to be sound. Taekman and his partner expect to pull in $2 million in the product’s first year. Take that, 50 Cent. --with Mike Beirne