With over 108 million people on diets each year it’s not shocking that Weight Watchers is rolling out a new advertising campaign. However, I’m a little disturbed by the new Weight Watchers commercials. They have consistently used “celebrity” women to endorse their company. Names such as Jessica Simpson twirling in the sun & Jennifer Hudson in tight pants. The company recently signed up comedian and TV star Ana Gasteyer (after many of her tweets were brought to their attention) to appear in ads for its online product in which she spoofs Nat King Cole’s “Orange Colored Sky” and Peggy Lee’s “Fever”.
But let me just tell you what I see. Initially, I was astounded that they themed their new commercials to have a mid-1900’s vibe. The women who are using Weight Watchers are corporate women, working moms, and independant females. Dressing Ana up as night club/ big band singer who talks about “my arms don’t jiggle when I clap!” does not make me want to sign up. I consistently see celebrities being paid to endorse a “product” not a lifestyle. How much do they make per campaign you might ask? An ABC News report stated that the fees are as high as $3 million.
Secondly, being in my 20’s, I am not a fan of the way they portray Ana. Can we say Hello June Cleaver? She looks like a 1950’s housewife. Add to that the Nat King Cole music, the saxophone, and I feel like I should be wasting away in a night club not counting points. If your focus is on the new mobile app and website why not target college students and young professionals? We are busy, we eat horribly, and having those weight loss tools at our finger tips would be a great thing to mention to us before we gain the freshman 15, sophomore 20 and so on. Show how you can log your points in between classes, between meetings, or a mom logging it in between dropping off kids for soccer…you have multiple options beyond the celebrity pool.
But I wondered…what makes their marketing campaign so successful? I discovered it’s really quite simple..
1 – Give People What They Want!
“We want to be able to eat our donuts and drink our Frappuccinos. And, smartly, Weight Watchers lets us do that.”
You can eat whatever you want as long as you count the points. But wait a second here..let’s really think about this. Is a donut really healthy for you? Is a Frap really the best thing to hydrate with? NO NO NO and NO! Why not teach people about clean and healthy eating? They are pouring junk into their bodies and expecting to look good.
But what does Weight Watchers say? Oh go ahead! You’re still within your PointsPlus value you’ll lose weight.
2 – Market to their mushy feelings, forget marketing the product.
If they strike a chord with you..you’re more likely to buy their product. Look at the Jennifer Hudson campaign for example. Their tag phrases were:
Jennifer Hudson Commercial (YouTube link): “I feel so comfortable in my jeans…it makes me love myself that much more…loving and free to eat what I love…loving and free to live my life”
Jennifer Hudson Commercial (YouTube link): “At this point I feel I can do anything, I feel good.”
In conclusion, they are apparently doing something right. Their annual revenues are up, enrollment is up and they are consistently rolling out new campaigns.
Weight Watchers International reported marketing expenses of $343.5 million last year, an increase of $51.2 million, according to its annual report. But here’s my question: If it really is as awesome as you say it is, why are you spending almost $400 million a year trying to convince us?
PS: My mom is a Weight Watchers Lifetime Member & I have done Weight Watchers 3 times but I find that my weight control is better with a Paleo lifestyle and exercise.