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My first Vitafoods experience in May of 2013 was unforgettable. It kicked off with a party hosted by BrandHive client, OmniActive.  The event was held on the outdoor deck at La Perle du Lac, on the edge of the Lake Geneva, Switzerland.  In addition to an informative talk by Dr. Jorg Grunwald, President of Analyze and Realize, who provided an update on EFSA claims, there was a terrific jazz quartet, amazing food, and the wonderful company of international colleagues. The warm, sunny weather that evening brought a parade of walkers, bikers and joggers along the lake path and the city really came to life.

The next day I easily navigated my way from downtown Geneva to the Palexpo exhibition center via the quietest train I have ever experienced (thanks to Swiss engineering expertise). Hitting the tradeshow floor, one immediate difference soon became apparent.  While most US tradeshow exchanges are handshakes and the occasional hug, the European “kiss hello” was offered by almost everyone. I had a few anxious moments as I worked on my aim and tried not to bonk anyone’s glasses.

After spending a few hours on the floor show it appeared that most ingredients and finished goods were primarily marketed toward “prevention” and healthy aging. Similar to what we see in the U.S. market, heart, cognitive, joint, and skin health products seemed to predominate. Emerging interest in protein supplementation was prominent at this show. In addition to enriched foods for the elderly, there were products targeting vegetarians, dieters and children. The targeting of product benefits to clearly defined small niches was in line with the trend towards “personalize nutrition” that was also a hot topic at the show.


In the afternoon, it was fun to participate in a long-standing Vitafoods tradition — a Norwegian specialties buffet at the Epax stand!  The smoked salmon with our client Gunilla Traberg’s special mustard sauce was a real treat.  A party theme perfectly suited to a Norwegian company with a 170+ year history in marine Omega-3s, this event was extremely well attended.

BrandHive has been designing the Epax Vitafoods stand graphics and event invitations for many years. It was great to see the stand in action and to attend the educational events they host. This year’s topics were the Effects of Marine Omega-3s on Telomeres, and PUFA’s affects on Inflammation biomarkers, both presented by Dr. Morten Bryhn, Scientific Advisor to Epax.

In the evening, the Nutrition Business & Technology Awards Gala was held at the Starling Geneva Hotel with Jeff Hilton acting as the event host for the second year in a row. Several BrandHive clients were nominated for awards, including Epax 1050 TG for Outstanding Application in Health Management, and Gencor Nutrients’ Libifem for Most Innovative Ingredient. While neither client walked away with an award this year, it was an honor to have them nominated and recognized for their efforts in product excellence.

Thursday was the last day of the show, and the slightly slower pace allowed for several client meetings to recap show highlights and discuss upcoming projects. In the afternoon, I made my final rounds to say “Good-bye”, “Au revoir”, “Auf Wiedersehen” and “Ha det!” before heading back to the hotel to pack my bags.

Overall, Vitafoods was a fantastic experience and a wonderful opportunity to support our BrandHive clients who market in both the U.S. and European markets. Next year Vitafoods will be held on May 6-8, 2014.  I hope to see you there!


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BrandHive is buzzing with growth, having added Gary Gonzalez and Meet Nagar to the team.

“Despite tough economic times, BrandHive’s business base continues to expand in the U.S. and internationally,” said Jeff Hilton, co-founder and chief marketing officer. “I think our growth reflects the robust, dynamic state of the natural product industry.”

Nagar now serves as marketing assistant for the agency, providing support, analysis and project coordination for many of BrandHive’s key clients. He graduated from University of Utah in 2012 with a Bachelor’s in Marketing. Previously, he worked as an Associate Chemist at Schiff Nutrition, verifying label claims for chondroitin and omega-3 fatty acids. Nagar enjoys the outdoors, sampling exotic foods and travel.

Gonzalez is BrandHive’s new public relations coordinator. The Seattle native opened his own clothing and digital marketing companies to help him pay his way through college. In 2010, he interned for Real Salt Lake’s marketing team. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from Westminster College’s communications program in 2012. The sports enthusiast recently took third place in his age category in the Salt Lake Marathon’s half marathon and was a star member of Westminster’s soccer team.

meet-nagar gary-gonzalez
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BrandHive Launches Lutein for Every Age


When BrandHive client OmniActive Health Technologies set out to launch its education initiative – Lutein for Every Age – they wanted to do something flashy that would immediately capture the attention of Engredea/Expo West tradeshow attendees. We had just the idea!

While attendees were waiting patiently for the show floor to open at the Anaheim Convention Center, a flash mob adorned in Lutein for Every Age t-shirts and neon sunglasses formed, singing and dancing to the classic song “I Can See Clearly Now.”



In total, three flash mobs of about 75 people broke out across various parts of the convention center grounds the morning of the show’s opening day. These unexpected flash mobs delivered OmniActive’s message about the importance of supplementing with lutein for maintaining eye health, no matter your age, in an exciting and unconventional way.

The program was even awarded the Editors’ Choice for “Best Marketing Campaign” at the show. Now that’s clearly a win for everyone!

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Creative packaging that catches the eye is part of the beverage tidal wave

The days of calorie-packed soda are over, as America reaches for functional beverages that heal,sooth or energize instead. BrandHive co-founder, Jeff Hilton, will lead the charge toward effective drinks today when he speaks at the Healthy Beverage Expo in Las Vegas.

We anticipate Hilton’s presentation to be “standing room only” as buyers, distributors and retailers gather to learn more about the innovative delivery formats, trending functional ingredients and condition-specific health benefits that are emerging in the healthy beverage market.

“It’s true that the food portion of the natural health industry is taking off,” said Jeff Hilton, partner and co-founder of BrandHive. “But, the fuel for the rocket is beverages. This aspect of the industry has grown, and we suspect this is only the beginning of the craze.”

Borba packaging exampleThe most popular beverage categories include super fruits, beauty-from-within products, drinks powered by vitality-enhancing ingredients, functional teas and enhanced waters. Marketing has evolved primarily through packaging, designs like cans, bottled drinks and powdered single-serving mixes catch the eye on store shelves. These innovations are helping natural health companies meet growing customer demand.

Hilton often emphasizes that the most successful brands are memorable and different, and boast scientific proof of their effectiveness.

“BrandHive intends to stay on top of the food and drink tidal wave,” continued Hilton. “Our job is to provide strong marketing to this industry as the millennial generation emerges as a critical market. Companies that provide choice, give back and connect socially will do well as this generation comes of age.”

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SALT LAKE CITY, June 4, 2013 — Jeff Hilton, BrandHive co-founder and partner, will speak at the Healthy Beverage Expo in Las Vegas on marketing and packaging trends in the healthy and functional beverage industries.

Hilton will present “Functional Revolution: Marketing Trends in the Healthy and Functional Beverage Category” on Saturday, June 8, at 11 a.m. PDT at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Attendees will learn new and innovative delivery formats, popular and trending functional ingredients, and condition-specific health benefits most common and emerging in the marketplace.

“It’s imperative to understand how healthy and functional beverages can best appeal to both Millennials and Boomers, distinct groups with totally unique attitudes toward health and wellness,” Hilton said. “And remember, healthy beverages are leading the functional revolution with consumers – even more so than foods.”

Hilton’s session will help beverage manufacturers pinpoint key raw ingredients that are dominating formulation trends and assist them in determining the right functional health benefits; and decisions which can make the difference between product success or failure.

The Health Beverage Expo is dedicated to supporting and fueling the healthy drink segment of the beverage market. Buyers, distributors, and retailers can preview and compare an extensive range of beverages, explore newly launched products, source vendors, participate in exclusive taste-test competitions, hear from top imbibe experts, establish key relationships, and evaluate opportunities to capitalize on this fast-growing segment.

Attendance for Jeff’s session is near capacity, contact customer service representatives for more information about the session and conference (


Consumer ad developed by BrandHive for Albion Minerals

1.    The primary role of a consumer campaign is to increase awareness

When a B2B company markets to consumers, the role of a campaign is to increase awareness, not to close the deal. Campaigns can increase consumer awareness of a finished or ingredient brand by using visuals and messages that:

  • Surprise
  • Evoke positive emotions
  • Create comfort with the brand
  • Lead thinking to a desired conclusion
  • Form associations that make the brand memorable
  • Satisfy the critical filter of resistance with clinical research
  • Facilitate engagement and familiarity

Please note, these same elements are also effective when marketing to manufacturers. High dollar sales are not spontaneous decisions, and manufacturers want to spend time getting to know a brand through its advertising in much the same way consumers do.

2.    Marketing to consumers requires vertical strategies

Unless you want to spend a lot of money to reach consumers through horizontal channels, consider targeting vertical media channels even for consumers.

When marketing ingredients to consumers, brands used to formulate their messages and broadcast them through mass media in order to generate broad exposure. Unfortunately, the proliferation of brand messages has become so overwhelming that consumers have evolved highly effective strategies for tuning them out. As a result, B2B brands today need to use targeted vertical media channels and aim to convert a specific type of customer defined both demographically and psychographically.

Vertical channels attract consumers interested enough in health topics to become educated on ingredients and condition-specific solutions. When these customers are educated on the advantages of a particular product, they are converted into brand “advocates.”

Once converted, brand advocates share brand images and messages across their social platforms, which is how vertical messages spread “virally” into the horizontal exposure brand managers want.

3.    Once you engage consumers, they want a say

What’s the hidden cost for targeting consumers in your marketing? Control of the brand. Today, brand advocates want to engage with the brands they champion. They want to have a say in future offerings and line extensions. They want to be heard on branded websites and blogs. When planning to target consumers, plan early to manage their “feedback loops.”

Campaigns that integrate these 3 points can generate the kind of consumer awareness that a brands retail partners will love.



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Jeff and gail

Jeff Hilton and Gail Frankoski represent BrandHive at VitaFoods 2013 in Geneva, Switzerland.

Every year, BrandHive works with international clients to prepare for VitaFoods, an international event that recognizes excellence in research and development, marketing, and technology within the nutraceutical and function food category. This year was no exception. Here’s a few things that kept BrandHive staff and clients busy during the 4-day event.

One long-standing client, Epax, was shortlisted for the “Outstanding Application in Health Management” award and hosted a presentation titled “Forever Young: Effects of marine omega-3 fatty acids on telomeres” given by Morten Bryhn, M.D., Ph.D.

Another BrandHive client, OmniActive, hosted an elegant dinner at La Perle du Sac, and launched a new vision-health ingredient called “Vision Blend.”

A third BrandHive client, Gencor, was shortlisted for “Most Innovative Ingredient” award and spread the word to those attending about its revolutionary female sexual health product, Libifem.

Other BrandHive clients, like LeSaffre (makers of Red Star Nutritional Yeast) and UAS Labs (The Probiotic Company) were also in attendance.

And, we don’t want to forget that BrandHive’s very own Jeff Hilton presided over the Gala award ceremony. Nice job Jeff.

Start planning now to put VitaFoods on your 2014 calendar and hear about topics as relevant as:

  • The rise of preventative, personalized nutrition
  • The ongoing popularity of high-protein products
  • Copy recommendations to avoid product rejections based on unaccepted claims

See you next year!

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 After marathon II

Gary here. At the hive, wellness is never far from our minds. That said, my recent experience running a half marathon with my brother was probably motivated more by a healthy sibling rivalry than anything else.

Rewind a few months to last Christmas. Neither my brother or I are “runners” per se, but sports have always been a big part of our lives. As collegiate soccer players, we both considered ourselves to be in pretty good shape, so when he threw out the idea of running a half marathon, I signed us up.

Four months later I was standing with my brother on the starting line, surrounded by 5,000 other runners who all seem a bit more prepared than I felt. I was sure they all:

  • Had their own running shoes.
  • Didn’t play a soccer game the night before.
  • Were happy to be there.

At this point, I started thinking about how far 13.1 miles really is. Needless to say, the few runs I had gone on weren’t quite that far. And then there was the rain. Yep, it rained hard. The entire race.


Rain aside, one hour, thirty minutes and twenty three seconds after the starting gun went off, I managed to haul my cold, wet and tired body over the finish line. My brother was about 30 seconds ahead of me. Much to our surprise we ended up placing 2nd and 3rd for our age group (19-24). Not too bad for a couple of soccer-kicking wanna-be runners.

When it’s all said and done, the race was a great exercise (pun intended) for getting out of my comfort zone. The jury is still out on whether this was a one time thing, but who knows? I do know that when someone asks me when I was the most miserable in 2013, I now have an answer. And if there is a next time, this 23-year-old is going to do a little more training.



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Modern doc

Let’s take a trip down memory lane, all the way back to 1990. Step into the office of Marcus Welby, MD, the quintessential American health care practitioner.

Note that Dr. Welby is an MD, expert in disease management. Confident in his knowledge of surgery and pharmaceuticals, he disparages the use of most vitamins and supplements. Ask about holistic therapies or botanicals or integrative medicine, and he quickly dismisses them as quackery or witchcraft.

Fast-forward to the present. Today, more than 13% of American health care practitioners dispense supplements. Nearly 90% take supplements themselves. Almost eight in ten recommend them to their patients.

Of course, all of this activity generates a lot of money. The health care practitioner channel is one of the fastest growing in the industry, racking up more than $2.5 billion in annual sales, according to National Business Journal estimates. For the last two decades, sales growth has been averaging a steady 8-10% annually. Across all market segments, practitioner sales comprise more than 10 percent of all supplement sales.

Why all the change? How did such a quirky, fringe industry quickly become so mainstream? There are several key factors:

  • Growth of consumer desire for natural options
  • Growing concerns around pharmaceuticals and surgery
  • Increased professionalism within the supplement industry, including greater reliance on science and clinical data
  • Practitioner need for increased revenue, due to declining insurance reimbursements

Perhaps most important of all, today practitioners realize that their patients are going to take supplements no matter what, so they might as well recommend professional-level products that offer the highest quality, efficacy and safety.

To be sure, the channel’s growth has generated loads of capital and excitement. But caveat emptor: This is not a dabbler’s market.  While it holds tremendous potential, it is fraught with complex economic and political dynamics.

So what should industry players know before delving into the murky world of health care practitioner marketing?

  • Speak to practitioners in their own language. As Erik Goldman, the editor of Holistic Primary Care, likes to say, “A massage therapist, a doctor of oriental medicine and a cardiologist are very different breeds, with very different needs.” In order to communicate effectively, take time to understand the unique cultures, preferences, educations and sensibilities of your audiences.
  • Ensure your products are proven by science and supported by data. This is important for all healthcare practitioners, not just allopaths. Unlike decades past, today all types of healthcare practitioners, including naturopaths and homeopaths, are routinely demanding randomized, placebo-controlled human clinical trials and other quality data. It’s not an option – invest in it.
  • Convey complex data simply.  Successful supplement brands are proven by science and supported by data – sometimes tons of it. It’s essential to have professionals on your team who are adept at understanding clinical trials, reviewing market trends, and boiling down consumer research.
  • Ensure your messages convey the safety and efficacy of your products, while staying within the boundaries of the law. That requires expertise in structure-function claims, regulations such as DSHEA, and understanding of the complex and ever-changing issues that comprise the alphabet soup of the FDA, FTC, cGMPs, etc. Not everyone has this expertise. Get someone on your team who does.
  • Provide tools for time-pressed physicians. Abstracts, executive summaries, links, webinars, slideshows, blogs, and in-person training can help health care practitioners quickly grasp your technical messages, and effectively pass them along them to their patients.
  • When promoting your products, target carefully. Large media list aggregators like to boast of their ability to “attract thousands of eyeballs.” But a careful look at their lists may uncover mismatched and outdated information. Rather than taking a gamble on purchased lists, rely on experts who have long-standing relationships and real, live contacts in the industry.

To generate healthy buzz (and protect your bottom line while you’re doing it), you need a marketing partner who understands the issues, values, challenges and concerns of health care practitioners, natural businesses and health-minded consumers. At BrandHive, we have 15-plus years doing just that. BrandHive clients benefit from our long-standing relationships and experience crafting engaging messages that hit targets. Contact us if we can help you:

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Matt Aller, Giles Wallace and photographer Jess Leondard.


Giles Wallace here. I teamed up with BrandHive Creative Director, Matt Aller, and a small cadre of friends to scale the Colorado Plateau on an 8-day backpacking trip.




Getting in was supposed to be easy–a short boat taxi from Antelope Marina on Lake Powell. But the water was low so we ended up going up and over the steep terrain that identifies this beautiful part of the Navajo Indian Reservation.




As with most trips to the desert, water was immediately in our thoughts. The desert air mixes with over-worked lungs and could dry out even a camel. Unable to spot the promised potholes, we found a stock trail used by the Navajo centuries ago. The stock trails led us to water (and yes, we did drink) and other wonderful discoveries.


Drinking water from sandstone pothole


For days, we wandered beautiful slick rock domes and high benches over-looking remote slot canyons and low desolate plains. We passed hogans, stock trails, old herding corrals, a few lithics and, lo and behold, an intact pot. What a fantastic find and amazingly well-preserved piece of history. We took pictures and left the relic where we found it.


Black on white ceramic pot


Eventually, we worked our way to a deceptively deep and verdant canyon to explore upper slot narrows. In its depths, this (WET!) canyon rarely gets sun. It’s not long before we peel on our wet suits and jump in for a few short swims. The swims are interspersed with narrow slot hiking and down-climbing. Eventually we reach the shadowed depths and the deep, dark, cold water that pools there. Two-person assists and a length of sling see us through this section to a thankful exit and the last rays of a gratefully warm sun.


Swimming in slot narrows


Having survived the wet and cold, we enjoyed warming temperatures, wide-open, dry buttes and Carmel shelfs that make for easy hiking. Finally reaching the end, we worked our way back down to the lake to make our date with our water taxi. Our last night will be hard to forget. We took baths in the lake, listened to Jess play guitar (yes, he carted his guitar out and back again) and enjoyed an excellent final meal.
What’s next for BrandHive adventurers? Stay tuned!


Open desert