Will Flatout Get a Boost From Weight Watchers Endorsement?

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Flatout Logo
Flatout Logo Credit: Flatout

Oprah may love bread, but does she love Flatout?

The flatbread brand is getting the Weight Watchers' official seal of approval after years in the diets of many of its followers, a move that may help the flatbread marketer notch faster sales gains. And surprisingly, Weight Watchers came to Flatout, rather than the other way around.

Many of Flatout's products have long been go-to low-points options for those who track points on Weight Watchers. Bloggers and others online share recipes for, say, a flatbread pizza, and call out how many Weight Watchers points the flatbreads contain.

Weight Watchers International noticed the popularity of the products, many of which contain two to four of its SmartPoints, and gave the flatbread brand an official endorsement.

"I think this Weight Watchers endorsement really is going to help us get to another level," said Bob Pallotta, senior VP-marketing.

Still, don't expect major ad campaigns tied to the endorsement. "We're still a guerilla marketing company and we don't really have the budget to do traditional kind of stuff," he said.

Flatout ProteinUp
Flatout ProteinUp Credit: Flatout

Flatout will soon begin featuring the Weight Watchers endorsement on packages of its Light, ProteinUp CarbDown, Gluten Free and Flatout Artisan Thin Pizza Crust varieties.

"At Weight Watchers, we are always on the lookout for new products and tools that can help people live well while losing weight," Ryan Nathan, Weight Watchers' VP-products, licensing, and e-commerce, said in a statement. "This endorsement was a natural fit, as we noticed many of our members were enthusiastically sharing their ideas on ways to incorporate SmartPoints-friendly Flatout Flatbread into their meals and snacks."

Flatout was part of trainer Bob Greene's Best Life Diet and was mentioned in that capacity on Oprah Winfrey's show years ago. At that point, it was probably the biggest news the brand had ever received, Mr. Pallotta said.

But Weight Watchers' most famous devotee and board member and a self-described bread lover in its advertising, Oprah Winfrey will not endorse Flatout herself. " At this time, there is no plan for Oprah Winfrey to promote these products," said Weight Watchers.

Weight Watchers has been gaining subscribers in North America, due in large part to its connection to Ms. Winfrey. Weight Watchers had 1.7 million subscribers in North America at the end of 2016, up 12.3% from a year earlier.

For now, Flatout is sticking with existing tactics including in-store displays. It also relies on social media mentions and word-of-mouth endorsements. The brand has relationships with people including Mitzi Dolan, dubbed America's Nutrition Expert, who are compensated for mentioning its products in recipes.

Mr. Pallotta said sales have grown consistently over the past few years for Flatout, which was acquired by Lancaster Colony Corp. in 2015. Lancaster Colony mentioned Flatout as one of the brands that grew in its latest quarter but did not disclose specific sales figures for the brand.

Flatout updated the FAQ on its site in a nod to its new designation, pointing out that Flatout coupons and recipe booklets can be found in Weight Watchers meeting rooms. Weight Watchers is featured on Flatout's site, while Flatout gets a page in the sponsors section of the Weight Watchers site.

Some Flatout products, such as the FoldIt and Healthy Grain lines, don't get the Weight Watchers nod. FoldIt is too similar to Arnold Sandwich Thins, which holds the Weight Watchers endorsement in the sandwich bread category.

Mr. Pallotta's team does much of the company's marketing and has also worked with Beth Gordon on marketing, social media and influencer engagement, Mary Shaughnessy on content and public relations and Anna Sikora on PR.

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