Weight Watchers brings M Booth to the table amid business transformation

The company, which has struggled financially amid fierce competition from free apps, parted ways with Ketchum earlier this year.

Image via Weight Watchers' Facebook page
Image via Weight Watchers' Facebook page

NEW YORK: Weight Watchers has selected M Booth to take the lead on PR programming and execution, following a competitive review.

The healthy lifestyle company chose M Booth after a selection process involving five agencies over the last few months, said Stacie Sherer, VP of PR for Weight Watchers, via email. She did not disclose what other firms pitched for the business.

Weight Watchers, which has struggled financially in recent years, is starting work with M Booth only a few months after parting ways with Ketchum and creative agency Wieden+Kennedy.

"We invited M Booth to the review because they’re known for creative and fresh ideas – executed through traditional and not-so-traditional channels – for emerging as well as established and iconic brands," said Sherer. "Throughout the process, we were impressed by the team’s insights, strategy, and creativity, but also their energy, passion, and determination to partner with us through our brand and business transformation."

The company did not elaborate on specific campaigns M Booth will be working on or its account budget. The firm had not previously worked with Weight Watchers.

"We look forward to partnering with the Weight Watchers team and putting the full force of our creative DNA behind the brand to help drive their business during this very evolutionary time," said M Booth CEO Dale Bornstein, who is also a Ketchum alum, via email.

Analysts believe the company is struggling due to intense competition from wearable fitness devices and free apps. Meanwhile, Weight Watchers’ app is $19.95 per month.

Weight Watchers saw its active subscriber base fall 20%, year-over-year, in the first quarter. Online subscribers dropped 22%, and meeting subscribers declined 17% in that period.

In April, Weight Watchers acquired startup Weilos, an online community for dieters and fitness fans. Last month, the company bought San Francisco-based fitness app developer Hot5.

Although Weight Watchers is upping its game in the tech space, CFO Nicholas Hotchkin said on its most recent earnings call that its average target customer is a woman in her late 40s.

"There is ample room, especially in 2016, for us to turn to positive recruits without having to focus on appealing to [a] much younger demographic," Hotchkin added, when asked how the company intended to reach out to younger customers.

Weight Watchers founder Jean Nidetch died in April at the age of 91.

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