Thinking of Changing Your Name? Weight Watchers Didn’t. And Look What Happened to Them.

May 2nd, 2019

It’s a recurring question asked by clients all the time- “Should we re-brand?” Here are some things to think about when contemplating that question.

The renaming of Weight Watchers’ to ‘WW’ shows the risks of changing a brand name. The company lost 300,000 subscribers in the quarter following the September 2018 change, followed by a disappointing post-festive peak season at the start of 2019. CEO Mindy Grossman forecast full year results well below expectations, with earnings per share of $1.25 to $1.50 less than half what was predicted (1). The share price dropped 36%, and is now back down close to historical levels after having enjoyed stellar growth in the last couple of years.

1. REFRESHING what made you famous

Until last year, Weight Watchers was a great example of brand rejuvenation, driven by the genius move to get Oprah Winfrey to buy 10% of the company in 2015. By becoming the public face of the brand, she not only boosted brand awareness, she also added credibility to the weight loss promise. “If she’s bought 10% of the company, their programs must work!” was the desired response.

The brand also renewed its product offer, including the Freestyle program expanded the list of ‘zero points’ foods, giving more freedom of choice of what to eat.

All the above followed a move to refresh the brand’s visual identity in 2012 to make it fresher and more contemporary, including a shorthand WW version of the logo.

After years of decline, revenues grew for several quarters in a row.

So, what went wrong? How has Weight Watchers seemed to clutch defeat from the jaws of victory?

2. FORGETTING what made you famous

I suggest the first and most fundamental mistake made by Weight Watchers was forgetting what made it famous, by shifting focus from weight loss to a broader remit of ‘health and wellness’. The move was reflected in the new slogan, Wellness That Works.

This change suggests the company believes weight loss is becoming less relevant over time, and health and wellness more so. But is that the case?

A quick look at Google Trends in the US suggests that the answer is “no.”

First, the search term ‘weight loss’ is 20 times more popular than ‘health and wellness.’ Second, the level of interest in weight loss is stable over the last 5 years and remarkably consistent. Searches peak straight after the Christmas festive season, stay high up to the summer holidays in July, then drop off in the winter months.

Even the CEO agrees that Weight Watchers has forgotten what made it famous, and what is relevant, as shown in her comments about the brand’s poorly performing peak season marketing campaign. “I think it needed to be more weight-loss focused, especially in the January season.” 

Indeed, despite the name change and the claim that the brand has moved focus to wellness, the focus of communication still seems to put weight loss front and center. Read the rest of this entry »

Are Two Heads Really Better Than One?

April 29th, 2019

two heads, group think, brainstorming“Nothing was ever created by two men. There are no good collaborations, whether in music, in art, in poetry, in mathematics, in philosophy. Once the miracle of creation has taken place, the group can build and extend it, but the group never invents anything. The preciousness lies in the lonely mind of a man.”
- John Steinbeck, East of Eden, Chap. 13, 1952

We always hear it and we always say it, “two heads are better than one.”  But when is the last time you ever saw anything with two heads that wasn’t a monster?

Alex Osborn was the “O” in the famous advertising agency B.B.D.O.  Osborn was full of ideas. His first book, How to “Think Up”, was published in 1942, followed by Your Creative Power in 1948, Wake Up Your Mind in 1952, and then in 1953, Applied Imagination: Principles and Procedures of Creative Problem Solving.

In an opening paragraph on a recent article into “Groupthink,” author Jonah Lehrer wrote,

“Osborn’s most celebrated idea was the one discussed in Chapter 33, ‘How to Organize a Squad to Create Ideas.’ When a group works together,  the members should engage in a ‘brainstorm.’ The book outlined the essential rules of a successful brainstorming session. The single most important of these, Osborn said, was the absence of criticism and negative feedback. Brainstorming was an immediate hit and Osborn became a popular business guru. The underlying assumption of brainstorming is that if people are scared of saying the wrong thing, they’ll end up saying nothing at all. Typically, participants leave a brainstorming session proud of their contribution. The whiteboard has been filled with free associations. At such moments, brainstorming can seem like an ideal mental technique, a feel-good way to boost productivity.”

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I’ve Said it Before, FaceBook “Likes” Don’t Drive Sales- Now Harvard Business says it too!

April 25th, 2017

A couple of years ago I wrote an article about this subject.   It’s nice to see that the esteemed Harvard Business Review (HBR) is now ‘on the same page’ as me.  A recent HBR article shot holes through two flawed assumptions that lead brand teams to waste time, talent and money getting likes for their own Facebook pages:

  1. Attracting followers will drive sales,
  2. Followers’ endorsement will cause their Facebook friends to buy more. The article draws on 23 experiments involving more than 18,000 people.

So here are the most outstanding thoughts from the article:

1. Facebook followers are already brand users

There is data out there suggesting that liking a brand does drive sales. A recent study by comScore and Facebook suggested that people liking a brand’s Facebook page buy it more: people liking Starbucks’s Facebook page, or with a Facebook friend who liked it, spent 8% more a month versus the general population. However, as the HBR article says, “that study and others like it contain a fatal logical flaw. They confuse cause and consequence.” As they go on to say, “Its possible that those who already have positive feelings toward a brand are more likely to follow it“.

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“How Long Until My Ads Start Working?”

July 22nd, 2015

At a recent lunch with a colleague, the topic of digital advertising and the immediate nature it affords of seeing results, came up.  That was followed by a commiseration of how people (clients) have come to expect “immediacy” from all of their advertising investments whether online or via traditional means.

So, for all you “readers” (and client types) out there—here are a few things to think about when advertising your product or service…anywhere (and yes, even online).

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Revenue from Social Media? Less than 10%

July 22nd, 2015

According to a new study from Regalix, social media marketing today is largely used to build awareness and exposure, though 80% of respondents say revenue generated from social media marketing is less than 10%. However, the budget for social media marketing appears to be allocated more generously, with 28% of respondents claiming their social media spend to be between 10% and 25%.

The study spoke to senior B2B marketers to understand current trends in social media marketing and the challenges faced by them in implementing a social media strategy. The research was done globally with a fair mix of product and service companies.Key findings of B2B mobile marketing 2015 are:

  • 94% respondents choose increasing brand awareness as key objective of their social media marketing efforts
  • 93% marketers choose Twitter as the most used social media platform
  • 88 % respondents say they have integrated their social media marketing with their overall marketing program
  • 82% respondents say their organizations invest in social media marketing
  • 52% respondents say they expect their social media budget to go up in the next 12 months

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