Online Exclusive: Account Action

Y&R WINS $45 MILLION WEIGHT WATCHERS AD ACCOUNT

Battered by Low-Carb Competitors, Diet Company Sales Decline

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Weight Watchers International has awarded its $45 million advertising account to WPP Group's Young & Rubicam, New York, following a review, according to the company.
Weight Watchers sales continue to decline.

Y&R beat out the New York offices of Omnicom Group's TBWA/Chiat/Day and Interpublic Group of Cos.' Lowe.

Dropped Seiden Group
Weight Watchers split this summer with its creative agency, Seiden Group, New York, in order to look for a larger agency.

Boston-based consultant Pile & Co. managed the review.

The popularity over the last year of the Atkins and South Beach diets has hurt Weight Watchers and its diet-plan competitors including Jenny Craig. (In June, Jenny Craig named Y&R sibling JWT as its agency.) During its recent third-quarter earnings call with analysts, Weight Watchers executives said the company had seen attendance at its weight-loss centers in North America continue to decline, albeit more slowly than in its second quarter.

Move to accommodate low-carb
In August, Weight Watchers introduced a new Core Plan diet designed to accommodate those on carb-restrictive diets. The company had not substantially innovated beyond its points-based portion-counting system since launching that plan in 1997.

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