Ad boost for Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers to $40M

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Leading weight-loss centers Weight Watchers International and Jenny Craig plan to ramp up marketing efforts next year by spending at least $40 million combined to draw attention to their programs amid the growing outcry over obesity.

Weight Watchers will supplement its regular ad effort featuring longtime spokeswoman Sarah Ferguson with a campaign in February to launch a national weigh-in event. The diet center will also advertise a booklet for new members featuring ads and coupons for 36 brands, among them Frito-Lay's Doritos 3D's. Weight Watchers spent $23 million for the first eight months of the year, according to Taylor Nelson Sofres' CMR.

Jenny Craig plans to increase ad spending beyond the roughly $15 million it spent this year, upping its TV buy and launching two attention-grabbing ads on top of its usual success-story campaign, which this year will target a broader age range. The company has in development a program geared toward adolescents, which it will support with additional spending later in 2003.

Weight Watchers will partner with the American Cancer Society for the launch of the Great American Weigh-In on March 5. The event is intended to draw people to Weight Watchers centers to find out their body mass index. An animated TV and print campaign, from Seiden Group, New York, will begin in February, as will public relations efforts and ads in medical journals.


Weight Watchers' new magazine-style booklet, In the Groove-featuring tips on how to get started and stay motivated-will be part of regular program materials given to new members. More than 600,000 people attend Weight Watchers meetings every week, spokeswoman Linda Carilli said, and companies are interested in tapping that captive audience. Among the 36 brands featured are Kellogg Co.'s Morningstar Farms, Smart Ones and Keebler brands, Kraft Foods' Jell-O and Frito-Lay's Doritos 3D's and Baked Tostitos. Tags to the base Weight Watchers campaign that kicks off Dec. 26 will tout the booklet.

Meanwhile, Jenny Craig will "widen its lens" beyond people in their late 30s and early 40s, to a broader 20-to-50-year-old demographic, said VP-Marketing Barbara Barry. The campaign, breaking Dec. 26, will feature success stories from the various age ranges set to the Patti LaBelle tune, "New Attitude." The tagline avers, "Jenny Craig: it works." Independent agency Johnson Ukropina, Irvine, Calif., handles.

Jenny Craig will also unveil a side print and TV effort Ms. Barry said is intended to "get some attention during all the clutter in the first 90 days of the year." One features different underpants on a clothesline and asks, "Want to change your underwear this year? Call Jenny Craig." Another features a hamburger, french fries and a soda and asks, "Have you supersized yourself?"

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