Weight Watchers to embrace technology and spread campaigns through the year

Weight Watchers is set to become less “passive” and sustain its promotional efforts throughout the year as it looks to boost its membership, according to general manager of marketing Michael Burgess.

The weight loss brand has launched a new promotional campaign through agency BMF based on the scientifically proven effectiveness of its program, and introducing new elements including short exercise programs and more customer support.

Whilst the new campaign is part of a global move to stress the science behind the 55-year-old program Burgess told Mumbrella it would not be adapting other globally recognised tactics such as brand ambassadors, after dabbling with the method in 2012 after coming under external pressures to do so which went “not particularly well”.

“The ambassador approach just lumps us in with the rest of the herd in this category, it’s not appropriate for our brand as we’ve got a much bigger and more compelling story to tell, rather than just celebrities losing weight.”

Burgess said whilst Australians liked following news on celebrity lifestyle and weight loss, using ambassadors did not lead to people “relating to the brand”, adding Australian ‘tall poppy’ syndrome made it a very different market to the US.

He admitted the business had “not kept pace with the changes in technology and consumer expectation” for the last three to five years and admitted “we probably haven’t had enough to talk about in terms of innovation for a number of years”.’

Without going into specifics he also said the company was looking to a number of technological developments to lead its new product pushes throughout the year, hinting at a content play.

Burgess also said the brand had been working on the basis of a major push in January around New Year’s resolutions, but said there would be a “more sustained” market presence from the brand this year, although he admitted any increase in marketing spend would probably rely on the success of the campaign.

Pointing to a study the brand did globally in 2011 which showed the cost of campaigns on Australian media was three times that of the US and substantially higher than the UK, Burgess said that meant the local operation spent “significantly more relative to the business size than the other markets, which means we have to be smart about how we spend and as efficient as we can”.

He was also keen to point out the brand was rooted in social marketing and was “social by design”, but admitted it needed to change “how we think about the business in its entirety”, and in particular how they harness the networks of “dormant” former customers to be brand advocates.


Weight Watchers has welcomed the new year with a new brand campaign which it says has been introduced as part of a larger, global transformation of the business.

Created by BMF, the refreshed Weight Watchers brand is focusing on being smart and simple, with the new campaign focusing on how the two work together to help customers lose weight.

Agency credits:

  • Client: Weight Watchers
  • Creative: BMF
  • Communications Strategy: Naked
  • Digital: Reactive
  • Social Media and PR: One Green Bean
  • Media: OMD
Alex Hayes

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