Though world renowned weight loss brand Weight Watchers have been with McCann Erickson New York for seven years now, it was announced late last week that their advertising business will now be covered by Widen + Kennedy, the independently owned, full-service agency based in Portland, Oregon. In a surprising move, there was no agency review process. The agency was brought on board because of the success Weight Watchers North America, Leysa Lysyi had with W+K when she worked as the chief marketing officer for Heineken USA.
It was announced late last week that Weight Watchers advertising business will now be covered by Wieden + Kennedy
Lysyi was appointed as president last November, around the same time that Weight Watchers also appointed Dan Crowe as their chief technology officer. Though there have been rumours regarding account consolidation, it's not clear at this point how his appointment will affect the current Weight Watchers digital agency, Ogilvy & Mather. With a yearly spend on measured media of almost $150 million ($149.8 million in 2013 to be exact), Weight Watchers is a significant win for W+K and a significant loss for McCann. The most recent ads McCann produced for the brand featured singer and actress Jessica Simpson, whether or not W+K will continue with the celebrity focused approach is unclear.
It would appear that McCann and Weight Watchers parted on relatively good terms, as McCann New York president, Chris Macdonald admits that as there have been “Significant recent changes at Weight Watchers,” (which includes a new CEO and president, as well as the recent loss of senior VP of marketing, Cheryl Callan), that is “Makes sense to part ways.” In a memo sent amongst McCann employees last week, it was made clear that the agency's relationship with Weight Watchers would end definitively in June. Macdonald also states that McCann can be “very proud of the smart and creatively superb” work they have done for Weight Watchers “over the past seven years, spanning broadcast and online.” He mentions the brand's campaigns featuring Jennifer Hudson and Charles Barkley, as well as the recent Jessica Simpson campaign, which he describes as “Very human work.”
The Weight Watchers account is a significant win for W+K and a significant loss for McCann
Conventional diet marketers such as Weight Watchers have been struggling of late, as dieters gravitate towards the internet and the various free weight-loss apps available for smartphones and tablets. Weight Watchers International CEO, James Chambers believes that his brand's offering have “become less appealing in this changing market,” primarily because their approach to innovation, and the consumer in general has not been “Sufficiently market-driven.” With the brand's new 'Simple Start' diet program he hopes to redress the balance somewhat, but admits that the marketing used to introduce the program thus far has been “Less effective”.
Benjamin Hiorns is a freelance writer from the UK who has never been on a diet, rarely visits the gym and probably drinks more at the weekends than he should.