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How to get your natural product on The Dr. Oz Show

How to get your natural product on The Dr. Oz Show
With five days notice, Beanitos appeared on Dr. Oz—and the company's sales skyrocketed. Get an insider look into the show, plus tips for manufacturers and retailers to cash in on the Mighty Oz without landing in legal trouble.

It's the kind of phone call every natural product manufacturer dreams of—the day when Dr. Oz producers say they want your product on the The Dr. Oz Show. Beanitos got this call earlier this month. There was only one problem: The episode was set to air in five days!

After a mailing snafu, where the product almost missed the show's deadline, the episode aired on May 16. Beanitos' website promptly crashed from the sudden influx of Web traffic, even though the company attempted to boost their Web servers prior to the show. But no matter—the company reported its highest order day ever in its two-year history.

The episode re-aired yesterday and this time Beanitos was prepared. The website saw a 310 percent increase in visitors, while Beanitos' Facebook page saw a 410 percent increase in visitors. All those visitors translated into sales: "We've seen average weekly orders more than double since announcing the Dr. Oz feature," said CEO Doug Foreman.

Watch our Skype interview with Foreman below, including a clip of the show, to get an insider's view of what it's like to be on Dr. Oz.

How did Beanitos land this coveted spot on Dr. Oz? Well, it took two years of pitching, but the product was a natural fit for the show because Oz and Beanitos have something in common. And it's this commonality that can make the difference for whether or not your product ends up on air.

"Dr. Oz does a great job educating folks about smart food choices," said Lexie Murray, public relations director for Beanitos. "We make a better-for-you natural chip. So I knew there was going to be synergy because we have a similar mission."

Beanitos could have been featured in a segment about healthier snack or a better-for-you Super Bowl party—and this is what Murray pitched—but ultimately the show producers chose to feature the product as an alternative to protein bars when dieting.

When pitching, rather than thinking about themes or seasonality, share the story of your product, what makes you stand out and why your mission matches Oz's. And then be prepared to play by the rules once you get the heads up to be on the show.

Playing by Dr. Oz's promotion rules

So you landed a spot, and you're ready to tell the whole world that you will be, and then that you have, appeared on the show. Not so fast—unfortunately, if you don't play by Dr. Oz's rules be prepared for some legal action.

Dr. Oz's publicity policy is strict, in part because Dr. Oz does not want to endorse products just because they've appeared on his show. What you can and cannot do:

  1. You can post something on your website leading up to the air date, but language must be approved by the show.
  2. After the show airs, any reference must come down within 48 hours.
  3. You may link to the Web clip of the segment you've appeared in, if it's available. Forget about posting the clip yourself—Dr. Oz doesn't release clips from its show other than its website.
  4. You may not send a press release.
  5. You cannot use the name of the show or Dr. Oz's legal name or likeness in any promotional materials.

So how did Beanitos still use their Dr. Oz appearance to their advantage? They cleverly used a combination of "As Seen on TV" and other graphics to insinuate a tie to the show, as shown in this screenshot of their website: 

Beanitos As Seen on TV homepage

And, they contacted newhope360 with the idea for this story, because media outlets aren't restricted in reporting on the show.

Oz cracks down on retailers, too

Turns out, even retailers are feeling the perils of using Dr. Oz's name in advertising. Zel Williams of Fresh Off the Farm, an 11-employee independent natural retailer in Rockport, Maine, had advertised on a local classified ads website that she carried products featured on Dr. Oz. The website recently received an email from Dr. Oz's legal counsel that read:

"All references to 'Dr. Oz Supplements' should be removed from your website. Dr. Mehmet Oz and THE DR. OZ SHOW should neither be used to promote or publicize your website nor should they be used to promote any goods or services advertised or promoted within your website."

According to Williams, products that have had little or no movement in ages (especially supplements) are flying off the shelves.  "We were merely attempting to let the public know we were the 'go to' place to try Oz's latest recommendation!" she said. "He is not interested in being a resource for selling which is really good, because it takes away from the credibility, but if I tell my customers, 'I'm sorry, Dr Oz won't let me promote this,' it will give the show a black eye."

See Dr. Oz recommendations move markets

Williams believes The Dr. Oz Show should partner with retailers and has even called the legal counsel with this suggestion. No response, yet.

So how can retailers take advantage of Dr. Oz-driven sales without getting in legal trouble? We talked with a retailer in Beanitos' hometown of Austin, Texas, to get expert tips.

How retailers can best serve Dr. Oz shoppers

Cody Atkins, wellness manager for the Wheatsville Co-Op in Austin, Texas, has been dealing with 'the Dr. Oz effect' for four years—two in conventional grocery and two at the Wheatsville Co-Op. He says the most difficult thing is ordering product in prior to the show. Because manufacturers often aren't given advance notice (Beanitos: five days), that's not always possible.

But the good news is, even if the product hits shelves two weeks later, it can still sell out in no time. Atkins recently had 24 units of green coffee bean extract delivered two weeks after a Dr. Oz feature. "I got it in on a Wednesday, on the shelf on Thursday, and really only had Friday to Sunday to sell it, and it was the number one item that sold that week," he said.

See Is Dr. Oz good for natural products retailers?

The best sellers? Anything related to weight management. Plus, supplements usually do better than food products. For example, if Dr. Oz mentions blueberries, there won't be as big of a rush as when he mentions green coffee bean extract.

How to determine what "as seen on TV" products to carry? First, do a manufacturer litmus test. Beware of manufacturers that are simply using Dr. Oz as a marketing tool. "There are a lot of fly-by-night companies who pop out a supplement," said Atkins. "You still have to protect your name."

Second, listen to your customers. "Really the customers determine what I should carry. Is it something I really want to promote? Maybe not, but if consumers want it—we’re a coop, so it's all about what our consumers want—it's still worth it to bring [the product] in."

Have you had a legal run in with Dr. Oz, or do you have tips to share about getting on the show? Share in the comments.

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