A Weight Watchers spokeswoman confirmed the selection in an email, stating that the small, independent New York-based agency was brought on to "do work for us in developing our spring campaign. We continue to evaluate agencies for the longer term."
The move comes as the weight-loss marketer struggles to hold onto members in the face of stiff competition from free online dieting, fitness and calorie-counting apps. In the fourth quarter, the company's revenue fell 10% to $327.8 million.
Wieden & Kennedy's work featured an expensive campaign called "Help With the Hard Part" that marked a significant departure for a brand that had typically relied on celebrities and before-and-after imagery. The campaign included a Super Bowl ad that resembled an anti-drug ad. The spot contained very little specific Weight Watchers branding and did not articulate specific benefits of the marketer's products and weight-loss plans. Instead, it sought to portray the complex relationship people have with food, while showing how popular culture can influence bad eating habits.
The ad only ran once -- during the Super Bowl. Asked about that, the Weight Watchers spokeswoman stated that the single-airing was the plan all along. She added that "our winter campaign is complete, therefore none of that work is on air and we'll begin our spring campaign with new work on Sunday."
The company declined to reveal the creative direction of the new campaign. DiMassimo Goldstein declined to comment. The shop -- which was one of Ad Age's small agencies of the year for 2014 -- has experience crafting ads for subscription-model businesses, ranging from Netflix and eBay to Reader's Digest and FreshDirect.
The turnaround task is likely to be difficult.
"Weight Watchers' recent recruitment struggles, which have led to a precipitous drop in online and meeting paid weeks and total company revenue, have raised concerns about brand impairment, or at the very least, diminished pricing power," Morningstar analyst R.J. Hottovy stated in a report in late March. He suggested the company has a need to develop "more substantive call-to-action across its marketing and consumer engagement efforts."