JENNY CRAIG RETAINS SUISSA MILLER: CREATIVE ON $40 MIL ACCOUNT STAYS PUT; MEDIA BUYING SHIFTS TO CARAT

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Jenny Craig concluded a three-month creative review by doing nothing.

The chain of weight-loss centers is leaving its $40 million account with incumbent Suissa Miller, Los Angeles, which beat out co-finalists WongDoody, Seattle, and the Richards Group, Dallas.

A concurrent media buying review is ending differently; that account will be moved from Western International Media, West Hollywood, Calif. to Carat ICG, Los Angeles.

HEALTHY CHOICE MOVES TO GREY

The conclusion of the reviews comes on the heels of ConAgra's unexpected shift of its $37 million Healthy Choice account to Grey Advertising, New York, from Campbell Mithun Esty, Minneapolis. Grey already had some $20 million in ConAgra work for such brands as Marie Callender frozen dinners and Butterball turkeys.

Although there was no formal review, a ConAgra spokeswoman said there were "informal talks" with two agencies other than Grey and CME; agency executives have identified them as Bozell Worldwide and Wieden & Kennedy.

Both Healthy Choice and Jenny Craig have faced slow growth prospects that were factors in their respective reviews.

Jenny Craig, with 695 U.S. weight-loss centers, has been under pressure in the troubled $33 billion market, which includes weight-loss programs, appetite suppressants and liquid meal replacements.

Weight-loss centers lost customers in droves to diet drugs later found to have damaging side effects. Jenny Craig, in an effort to recapture customers, began offering diet drugs but dropped that program in August 1997.

Sales dropped to $352.2 million for Jenny Craig's fiscal year ended June 30, down 3.5% from the previous year. Operating income plunged to $2 million in fiscal 1998, from $11.8 million a year ago.

Jenny Craig advertising in recent years has focused on testimonials from celebrities and real people. Its current tagline: "You deserve it."

BEATING THE ODDS

Although odds often run against incumbents, Suissa Miller retained the business via a pitch that included everything from new programs to refrigerator-door tags, an executive familiar with the review said.

Jenny Craig is believed to be interested in line extensions as well as beefing up its Internet presence.

Bob Wolf Partners & Co., Los Angeles, founded by former Chiat/Day executive Bob Wolf and former ad executive Dan Pearlman, handled the review. Mr. Wolf is on Jenny Craig's board.

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