When Weight Watchers first came to us in the spring of 2015, the brand was in an alarming state…
The previous months had been some of the worst in the iconic company’s history, with substantial dips in subscriptions, sign-ups, and revenue, leading to the stock plummeting from $25 to $7 per share.
At the same time, the category was facing fierce and unfamiliar competition in the form of wearable tech, free fitness and calorie counting apps, and niche diets that were sweeping the internet. The consumer was now living in a choice-filled world, which led to powerful defenses. Inaction is exacerbated by the unprecedented level of emotional distance and skepticism that people are feeling, primarily because they are overwhelmed.
The conversation shifted, and no one was talking about Weight Watchers. With the brand on the “brink of irrelevance,” they needed more than just an agency – they needed an ally.
That’s when they came to us to inspire action.
The client couldn’t afford to be patient. Like any true change agent, our client couldn’t sacrifice brand for revenue or revenue for brand – they needed both, and urgently.
The challenge: refresh the brand to drive both recruitment and brand value.
The timeline? One month.
30 days to diagnose the previous failed strategy, create and choose offers, plan channels, agree on a brief, conceive and write scripts and concepts, and then produce, launch and traffic two television commercials and a digital campaign.
We accepted the challenge, and with confidence. From our work with Reader’s Digest, Netflix, eBay, Fresh Direct, and many others, we knew subscription-model businesses. We knew the health and wellness category. We knew the immense pressure and responsibility our client felt. We knew we could help.
Executing a process that most agencies require four to six months to complete in just 30 days would require all hands on deck and inspiring collaboration with our client. With both teams excited by the new partnership and the challenge ahead, we immediately went to work.
There are two ways that we can change behavior: by increasing motivation and by making it easier for our audience to take action.
Weight loss is one of the toughest behavioral challenges of our times. Sometimes people might be very motivated to lose weight, but lack the skills to do it. They don’t know how to do it, and the environment does not make it easy for people to lose weight. Life gets in their way.
To overcome these challenges, Weight Watchers needed to hit both, motivation and ease.
With our first campaign, we tapped into people’s natural desire to change by modeling behavioral change. People learn new ways of behaving by watching others. Modeling can be very powerful when it creates a new social norm. And there’s generally a tipping point when not participating in the action becomes the odd behavior.
In a four-week sprint, and with our client involved at every step, we conceived, developed, and went to market with a winning campaign that focused on the brand’s secret ingredient – its members – while highlighting the special offer of a free starter kit to increase ease.
The starter kit was a key. Everyone’s journey to weight loss is unique, but almost always, making the commitment to start is the hardest part. Most diets only last a few days because results don’t happen overnight.
With a free starter kit, the consumer now had something tangible to symbolize this new chapter of transformation. It gave them the tools they needed to succeed, and made them feel confident they could stay the course. It was a constant reminder of the empowering path they were on.
The campaign generated excitement and restored consumers’ motivation to act, leading to the first up quarter of recruitment in years. The stock price went back up, and for the first time in a while, the future was hopeful. Still, our work was far from finished.
In 2016, our brand planners helped us strategically prepare to launch a campaign around Weight Watchers’ new program, SmartPoints, one of the brand’s biggest innovations in 50 years.
Understanding the human behaviors that would ultimately drive action, our client doubled down on our consumer-centric approach and engaged the members like never before. We worked with Weight Watchers to cast real members talking about their experiences, capturing the values of the brand and its audience at the same time.
New signups surged, with increases in subscribers, meeting attendees, and an immediate 5% North American revenue lift.
With a new program in place, our client had something others didn’t – real results with real people.
Our Fall 2016 sprint started with a happier problem; Members were losing 15% more weight on beyond the scale.
How could our client get the news out in a way that would get noticed? Once again, the client inspired action, reaching out to real members and super fans. But this time, through Weight Watchers’ own app, Connect, which has been called the most positive social network on earth.
We asked members to film themselves telling us their success stories and living the program. A technique we’ve dubbed, the Selfifesto®.
And like the program, the campaign worked, inspiring the audiences to act in ways that benefit them.
During our over three-year partnership with Weight Watchers, our client achieved 10 consecutive quarters of recruitment growth. The stock grew from $7 to $107 per share, and Weight Watchers reached its highest marketing efficiency since 2008.
Together, we helped revitalize the brand, breaking down the barriers to motivation to gain over 1 million new members a year. We increased their commitment, made the path easy, and helped them each make more inspiring decisions and form more empowering habits.
That’s the master change agent way. That’s inspiring action.