Weight Watchers - Consumer Sentiment: United States
The Weight Watchers program is large as has many adherents and members, many of whom cheerlead for the brand and support it vociferously. Outside of its base, however, the brand has provoked a mixture of reactions. In particular, its ads have been criticized for over-aggrandizing beauty and being too narrow in their depictions of health and women's issues. Their meetings can run into difficulties if meeting leaders are not charismatic and dynamic enough. The brand's association with Oprah is clearly an asset, but some view the brand's association with Kate Hudson as unsuccessful.
WEIGHT WATCHERS ADVERTISING
Public reactions to Weight Watchers' advertising could best be described as mixed-to-negative. Numerous articles dissect Weight Watchers' commercials with criticisms of their depictions of women, health and food. This article describes a particular ad as "compelling and revolting." The ad's author is not a member of the Weight Watchers program, but describes his reaction to the ad as confused. He argues that the target audience - people seeking to lose weight - might feel offended since the ad seems to poke fun at their plight.
This article contains a list of 10 reasons why Oprah's Weight Watchers commercials are "the worst." The list explores the ads' unstated assumption that a woman's worth is tied to her beauty. It mentions the way being thin can hold a strong lure, but makes no mention of the time and money burden imposed by the Weight Watchers program. The list directly challenges the implied assumption that Weight Watchers can make people happy or address the underlying causes of extra weight. In a separate article by AdWeek, a Weight Watchers short film addressing the causes of weight gain is pointed to as "Ad of the Day," but upon analysis described the movie as "unremarkable."
WEIGHT WATCHERS MEETINGS
Public feelings about Weight Watchers meetings are more diverse. Opinions are more positive on the whole than opinions on Weight Watchers' advertising, but do contains some criticisms. Some members describe the meetings and the meetings' leaders as "amazing." These members feel the meetings are emotionally satisfying and full of helpful information that supports their weight loss goals.
Others have left meetings early, complaining that leaders were uninspiring and dull, simply quoting the content of pamphlets. The theme of poor leadership dragging down the quality of meetings shows up more than once in discussions of Weight Watchers Meetings. One member offers a mixed review, describing herself as too uncomfortable around people to gain any personal benefit from meetings, but she also encourages more social program members to attend. She asserts that weekly meetings may be useful for those who seek extra support.
WEIGHT WATCHERS CELEBRITY INVOLVEMENT
The two most high-profile celebrity spokespeople of Weight Watchers are Oprah and Kate Hudson. Overall, Oprah is and remains a well-received spokesperson for the brand, but Kate Hudson's involvement went poorly. Oprah's struggle with her weight is seen as relatable. Even in an article critical of the company and her ads, she comes out well and her association with the brand is received positively. Kate Hudson's story was not well-received and her story was viewed as unrelatable. In particular, her apparent "abs of steel" that she showed off right after having a baby hurt the public's ability to see themselves in her.
Weight Watchers is a large program with a long history. It has supporters and detractors and its past has both successes and failures in cultivating public perception. That stated, its advertising does not seem to have adapted well to recent trends in public expectations around feminism and health. Weight Watchers meetings seem to be hit or miss and highly dependent on the quality of meeting leadership. Oprah continues to be an effective spokesperson for the brand, but Weight Watchers' association with Kate Hudson went poorly.