Weight Watchers and W&K End Relationship

Parting Follows Departure of Weight Loss Company's North American President

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Weight Watchers Super Bowl Ad: All You Can Eat
Weight Watchers Super Bowl Ad: All You Can Eat 

Weight Watchers, which has struggled to turn around its business, has parted ways with Wieden & Kennedy, Portland.

"We are taking a number of actions to change our marketing execution moving forward. As part of these changes, we will no longer be working with Wieden & Kennedy Portland, who we wish to thank for their efforts during the past year," Maurice Herrera, senior VP marketing for Weight Watchers, said in a statement to Ad Age. "We are not ready at this time to announce a new agency partner but in the interim we have promising plans in place for the spring that are aimed at driving recruitment."

Tom Blessington, managing partner for W&K Portland, said in a statement that "we are proud of the work we produced in the short time together. It was a great team and we wish them nothing but the best of luck."

The move follows the departure announcement last month of Weight Watchers North American president Lesya Lysyj. Ms. Lysyj oversaw W&K's hiring last year after Weight Watchers cut ties with McCann, New York. Ms. Lysyj was familiar with Wieden from her time at Heineken USA, where she named the agency the lead shop for brand Heineken in 2011 when she was the beer importer's chief marketing officer.

Under Wieden, Weight Watchers last year launched an expensive campaign called "Help With the Hard Part." The effort marked a significant departure for a brand that had relied on celebrities such as Jennifer Hudson and before-and-after imagery. The campaign included a Super Bowl ad that resembled an anti-drug ad. It sought to portray the complex relationship people have with food, while showing how popular culture can influence bad eating habits.

But the company's problems are structural as much as advertising-related as it continues to fight competition from free online dieting, fitness and calorie-counting apps. In the fourth quarter, the company's revenue fell 10% to $327.8 million. Ms. Lysyj's departure was announced in late February in a regulatory filing that noted the company was reducing its workforce as part of a cost-savings initiative.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, however, W&K recently scored a major win when it picked up Yum Brands' KFC.

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