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Weight Watchers: Even if it’s broke, don’t fix it!

Bobby Ghayouri

The Weight Watchers ad illustrates the life of a busy mother; cooking, shopping, walking the dog, getting the kids ready etc. It’s hectic! Appropriately then, the voiceover describes an ‘easier way to help you live healthily’ via their new app, which makes a couple of fleeting appearances. Living well on-the-go is achievable and they have the answer, but does their ad campaign do the new app justice?

Over the last 12 months, Weight Watchers achieved an overall cost-per-visit (CpV) of £8.60, which is relatively high given their status and pedigree. But it’s a seasonal product, you might say. Well, this is when it gets interesting. Over the usually busier period – both in ad spend and sales – of December / January, Weight Watchers’ CpV was £10.69!

One reason for this result could be a 66% bias towards peak time broadcasting, and the likes of Coronation Street, Emmerdale and The Chase featuring heavily in the mix. These three programmes alone account for 18% of all adult impacts over the last year. Appointment-to-view programmes such as the soaps are typically less responsive than say daytime ‘wallpaper’ viewing, where the viewer is more likely to leave the screen to respond to an ad they’ve just seen.

Other factors such as an even day-of-week split showing limited fluctuations – potentially due to a lack of testing – could have a negative long term affect. Certain days of the week often present themselves as less responsive than others, and it is rare for all to work equally well, whatever the KPI is. Dieting is one of the ultimate ‘be good/ be bad’ categories that usually benefit heavily from advertising early in the week when prospects are full of good intentions. The fact that there is no significant up-weighting of Sundays and Mondays represents a missed opportunity.

Finally, the website URL call-to-action is only on screen for the last second of the 30” spot. One second! Even brand-led missions need not completely harpoon the chance of a tangible and measurable response!

Stuck in their ways – where is the optimisation?
Weight Watchers has been around for a long time, and as such they have the benefit of experience behind their media output. But rather than having a continuously refined and sharp TV plan, it seems they are set in their ways over a multitude of variables. In 2014, they switched from the ‘always on’ approach from preceding years and removed the period of June to November from their TV plans. This approach has remained constant ever since. Furthermore, their peak time bias has also remained in the same ballpark in that period.

It doesn’t matter how big the client is or how long they have been around, advertisers should continuously be challenged by their agency to break new ground, test new campaign dynamics and get ahead of the ever growing challengers. Testing, learning and optimising should be the norm, and static campaigns often indicate a lack of these fundamentals. Now, the lack of movement in some campaign variables could well mean that targets are being met and all is well – however, with the highest CpV figure out of the advertisers covered in this edition, the evidence suggests the contrary.

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