Weight Watchers Taps Dave Burwick as President-North America

PepsiCo Veteran to Head Company's Meetings Operations Unit

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Dave Burwick, a longtime PepsiCo veteran, has landed at Weight Watchers.

Starting tomorrow, Mr. Burwick will take on the role of president-North America. He will be responsible for the weight-loss company's meetings-operations unit, which includes products, publishing and licensing business, as well as marketing.

Dave Burwick
Dave Burwick
Most recently CMO of North American Beverages at PepsiCo, Mr. Burwick held a variety of marketing positions during his two decades at the company, managing nearly every brand in the beverage portfolio. It was a source of pride for PepsiCo that he was the company's first CMO to be home-grown from an entry-level position.

At the time of his departure from PepsiCo, in July of last year, the company said that Mr. Burwick had general management aspirations. Indeed, according to those with knowledge of the matter, Mr. Burwick had entertained a general-management role at Starbucks, though he was also rumored to be on the short list for the recently filled CMO post at Disney.

Mr. Burwick declined to comment on other positions he has considered but said he has been committed to pursuing a general management role. He was president of Pepsi-Quaker Tropicana Gatorade in Canada for two years, a position he says he "loved," before returning to the U.S. and landing in the CMO of North American Beverages role.

"While there were a lot of CMO roles out there and some were tempting, I wanted to run a P&L [profit and loss]," he said. "That's why I left [PepsiCo]."

Weight Watchers was also appealing because of its positioning in the health-and-wellness space, he said, noting that his search focused on companies that had an active living or health-and-wellness bent.

"It's a really exciting space that is only going to get more important every day," he said. "Weight Watchers is a great brand that's well known and well regarded. There's an opportunity to make it even more relevant to a broader cross section of the population."

Mr. Burwick will be based in New York and report to David Kirchhoff, president-CEO of Weight Watchers.

In a release, Mr. Kirchhoff praised Mr. Burwick's leadership, general management and "razor-sharp marketing skills."

"As our North American business moves into a new phase of transformation, innovation and growth, I cannot imagine a stronger combination of aptitude, skills and experience in a leader to direct us into this exciting new phase for our largest business," Mr. Kirchhoff said.

In February, Weight Watchers reported 2009 revenue of $1.4 billion, down from $1.5 billion a year ago. Still, the company said its results were on target , despite the tough economy. The nearly $60 billion weight-loss industry grew 2% in 2009, a significant drop from its typical growth rate of 6%. Weight Watchers also awarded its $70 million U.S. media planning and buying account to Horizon media this week.

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