A new marketing campaign by Diageo explaining the absence of carbohydrates in four of its leading brands is designed to appeal to a wide range of spirits drinkers. By taking the cost of such advertising to the corporate level, no individual brand will bear the brunt of widespread national magazine advertising costs, but all are likely to benefit.

After an initial suspicion and reluctance on the part of many CPG manufacturers to join in the low-carb frenzy, remaining on the sideline no longer seems an option. As dieters and nutritionists debate the relative virtues of specific diets such as Atkins, South Beach and the myriad of newer ones, the upshot is a rising awareness of the benefits of a general low-carb lifestyle.

Diageo is tapping into this trend by reminding consumers there were never any carbs in its spirits in the first place. Aligning itself with the new lifestyle of many consumers, rather than focusing solely on specific drinking choices is a smart move for the company. It is inherently positioning its brands as part of the solution rather than the problem of following a low-carb diet.

Indeed, for many Atkins dieters, the biggest problem they face is the limited food choices available, although this is changing to a certain degree with multiple new product launches in the US.

In a more questionable move, however, and a first for Diageo, the advertisements are cross-branded, promoting the benefits of Smirnoff, Johnnie Walker, Tanqueray and Crown Royal in a single effort. In announcing the move, Barry Sheridan, marketing director at Diageo, commented: "All four brands combined together strengthens our zero carb message and allows us to reach a number of different audiences."

Whether consumers ultimately associate the message with these particular brands, or with spirits in general, remains to be seen. Due to its sheer size, this is a gamble that Diageo can afford to cover on an issue it cannot afford to ignore.