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1574R-0258BTwo long-time rivals in the weight loss industry, Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers, have long used relatively similar marketing campaigns: Famous spokespeople (sometimes joined by regular clients) appear in shots showing them at their heaviest. Then these actors, celebrities, and regular folks break through with their thinner selves. The communications promise consumers hoping to drop a few pounds that if Marie Osmond, Jennifer Hudson, Valerie Bertinelli, or Dan Marino can do it, so can they.

But when everybody is promising the same thing, a problem arises. Can customers really tell them apart? The recently hired chief marketing officer of Jenny Craig soon uncovered this concern when, after telling people of her new position, she got a bunch of compliments about how great Jennifer Hudson was—that is, compliments for the spokesperson for Jenny Craig’s competitor, Weight Watchers.

In response, Jenny Craig has put a moratorium on using celebrity spokepeople in its advertising. Perhaps even more radically, it is doing away with the “before-and-after” shots that have long been a mainstay of weight loss programs’ marketing. Instead, the communications will focus on that which distinguishes Jenny Craig from its competitors.

For example, the Jenny Craig system centers around one-on-one support offered by the company’s counselors, as well as its single-portion prepared foods. Unlike online calorie counters, which represent a new class of competitors for Jenny Craig, it also promises easy-to-follow plans, in which consumers don’t have to count their own calories.

In conjunction with these advertising revisions, it plans to introduce a new monthly payment plan, rather than requiring consumers to commit to long-term contracts.

Source: E.J. Schultz, “Why You Won’t See Mariah Carey in Jenny Craig Ads Anymore,” Advertising Age, August 12, 2013