Ad Agency Solve Reinvents the Weight Loss Ad

Ad Agency Solve Reinvents the Weight Loss Ad

Commercials feature three real-life “before” people talking to their “after.”

The Strategy

Most weight-loss spots don’t wait long before cutting to scenes of a high school reunion. But what if the reunion was with your former self? That was the insightful innovation from Minneapolis-based Solve for Maryland-based Medifast.

The Creative

The resulting “Become Yourself” campaign features compelling commercials with three real-life “before” people talking to their “after.” There’s trick photography, sure. But the real special effect is emotion.

“We used a real person to touch on the reality of a big part of weight loss—the emotional part of the journey,” says John Colasanti, CEO of Solve, formed in 2011. “Other brands were more surface-level before-and-after, and we kind of got into the soul of the person. . . . This isn’t a vanity play, where you were just trying to fit into a dress or some jeans. . . . It was something deeper.”

The depth of emotion comes across, with the “befores” asking tough questions of the “afters,” which are answered with raw emotion, describing how weight gain can impact a person’s life. “It’s not a before-and-after, it’s a journey,” says Colasanti. “It never really ends.”

The Buy

The same might be said of the communications careers of Colasanti and his 14 colleagues. Many spent years at bigger Twin Cities shops, and now they’re trying to change how ad agencies work.

“We thought we would reinvent the agency model. Yeah, I know, get in line for doing that,” Colasanti joked. He described Solve as a “hub of brand and communications” expertise, but “we weren’t going to build out a digital group, a broadcast production group, a PR group, a design group—we’re going to be the hub. We have enough experience to understand a problem.”

The result was $3 million in 2012 billings, and soon more employees. Current clients include Organic Valley, Medifast, Orbea (a Spanish cycling company), and work for Best Buy, among others.

Medifast used TV, print, and digital advertising. Solve didn’t place the Medifast media, and declined to reveal how much the client was investing. But if the campaign catches on, Solve will have a before-and-after story of its own to tell.