"Although we have a great deal of respect for JWT, we felt we needed ... incremental strength in the area of direct response and celebrity management," said Scott Parker, VP-marketing. He said the weight loss marketer also wanted an agency closer to its Southern California offices. "We are in a very volatile business and we need people on the ground here all the time," he said. Calls placed to JWT for comment were not returned by press time.
Y&R, in addition to general-agency services, has offices for its direct-response unit Wunderman in Irvine.
Mr. Parker said media spending on the account is about $55 million. Jenny Craig spent $23 million in measured media for the first six months of this year, and $36 million in 2006, according to TNS Media Intelligence.
Mr. Parker said appointment is not likely to signal any change in its celebrity strategy, which, he said, has been working very effectively. Jenny Craig has about doubled the number of active dieters on his program to about 500,000 since actress Kirstie Alley became its spokeswoman. After Ms. Alley stopped the plan, Jenny Craig boosted interest in the centers by adding Valerie Bertinelli. Some recent spots feature both women.
Other agencies in the pitch included Omnicom Group's DDB, San Francisco and Venice, Calif.; Publicis Groupe's Publicis & Hal Riney, San Francisco, and independent Butler, Shine & Stern, Sausalito, Calif.
Rick Eiserman, CEO, Young & Rubicam Brands, Irvine, said the shop will handle a range of duties, including direct-response TV, print, point of sale, modeling and analytics.
Media duties for the weight-loss chain, currently handled by Aegis' Carat, were not part of the review.
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Contributing: Rupal Parekh and Megan McIlroy