The Evolution of Diet and Health Marketing Through the Ages

Influencer Strategy
Influencer Marketing
Press Creative
TV/Cinema Creative

In the ever-shifting landscape of health and diet, marketing has played a pivotal role in shaping our perceptions and influencing our choices.

As we traverse the decades, we witness the fascinating evolution of marketing strategies, from the quaint era of long-form print ads to the glitz and glam of celebrity endorsements in the 90s and 00s. Today, in the digital age dominated by Instagram and influencers, we find ourselves at a crossroads where ethics, health and the demand for genuine advocacy converge to redefine diet marketing.

The Early Days of Long-Form Print Ads (1950s-60s)

In the golden era of the 1950s and 60s, marketing messages sprawled across the pages of magazines and newspapers, beckoning readers to embrace the latest diet trends.

Long-form print ads dominated, weaving intricate narratives around the virtues of specific diets. These ads, often accompanied by illustrations and testimonials, not only sought to sell products but to establish a narrative that connected with the aspirations of the post-war generation.

Celebrity Endorsements Take Centre Stage (1990s-2000s)

Fast forward to the 90s and 00s, and the landscape of diet marketing transformed dramatically. Television became the new battleground and celebrities emerged as the generals leading the charge.

From Kelly Brook championing the joys of Slim Fast to Sarah, Duchess of York peddling Weight Watchers, diets became entwined with the charisma and influence of individuals. The allure of celebrity endorsements offered not just a product but a lifestyle, captivating audiences and solidifying diet trends in the collective consciousness.


The Digital Age and the Rise of Influencers (2010s):

In our contemporary era, the stage has shifted to the digital realm. Instagram, TikTok and a plethora of influencers dominate the narrative, transforming the way diets are marketed.

The visually-driven nature of these platforms allows for the creation of aspirational lifestyles, and influencers serve as relatable advocates. From fitness gurus to wellness coaches, the digital age has democratised the conversation, making diet choices more accessible and personal.

During this time, we also saw more push back on traditional celebrities using their platforms to promote potentially dangerous diet products to an ever-younger audience. For example, Kim Kardashian has called out for promoting diet tea, diet shakes and even appetite-suppressing lollipops to her millions of Instagram followers.

A Shift in Messaging

As we navigate the complex world of modern diet marketing, ethical considerations take centre stage. The messaging used in the last 50 years is no longer acceptable and focus has shifted to a more holistic view of health and wellbeing.

Brands now champion messages that resonate with a wellness-conscious audience, emphasising the positive impact on mental and physical health.

Long gone are the days of the beach body ready rhetoric – a lesson learned the hard way by Protein World back in 2015. The conversation that followed demonstrated a new, more progressive attitude to diet culture and a move away from the shame-tactics used historically.

Advocacy and the Power of Word of Mouth

While the channels of diet marketing have evolved, one constant remains—the power of word of mouth. Throughout the years, it’s only the genuine advocacy of real individuals can make a lasting impact. From long form storytelling in vintage ads to celebrity endorsements and influencer posts, marketers have always looked to mimic the authenticity of a real-life successes.

Nothing can ever replace the power of Brenda from Accounts telling you how she managed to lose 5lb before her holiday to Tenerife.

In the end, it’s not just about selling diets; it’s about creating a narrative that resonates, fosters trust and genuinely contributes to the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities who will then go out and advocate for their product.

Looking to create an authentic following of your own? Get in touch with our team to arrange a marketing strategy workshop and get the ball rolling on your 2024 goals.