Oprah Winfrey Gave Weight Watchers a Ton of Free Press

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Oprah Winfrey’s endorsement and investment in Weight Watchers hasn’t yet helped jolt the diet company’s sales. But the media mogul is certainly leaving a strong impression with consumers.

The announcement of the partnership that Winfrey struck with Weight Watchers last year led to “more than one billion earned media impressions,” the company disclosed in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Impressions, in other words free publicity, is each time that a view was exposed to a mention of Weight Watchers (WTW), Bloomberg notes.

The weight-loss industry has long relied on big stars to advocate for their programs. Industry observers say that before Winfrey’s deal with Weight Watchers, the last partnership that truly resonated with consumers was Weight Watchers’ deal with Oscar-winning actress and singer Jennifer Hudson. That relationship started in 2010 and ended about two years ago.

Winfrey in October announced she would take a 10% stake in Weight Watchers and since then, she’s actively promoted the brand via her social channels. She notably has nearly 32 million Twitter followers and 5.2 million fans on Facebook’s Instagram.

Her backing of the brand hasn’t yet helped boost sales. Weight Watchers late last month reported a surprise fourth-quarter loss and a 21% drop in revenue as the company’s subscriber count decreased. Weight Watchers, like many of its diet-loss rivals, have been challenged in recent years as weight loss programs have lost their luster as consumers turn to other methods to drop the pounds. The proliferation of smartphone apps has become a particularly problematic threat in recent years.

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