Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Winter Wonders -The Phone Call with Oprah

Today, I have a question for you:

Would you buy a product, or use a service, just because a celebrity endorsed it?

Here in the United States, the involvement of one particular celebrity can make the fortunes of a book.  Or a company. 

So, for many people, the answer is "yes".

What is my answer?  Let me tell you a story.

Since November of 2012, I have been a member of Weight Watchers, a diet program that is a lot more than that.  I was overweight, on the verge of obesity, and suffering from a number of weight related issues when I signed up. 

I have a lot to thank Weight Watchers for.  Their program taught me how to eat, the basics of portion control, and the need to journal your weight journey.  I learned I was a good person and deserved good health.   It is a lifetime commitment when you have a weight issue, I learned.  Their weekly meetings gave me encouragement.  If I slipped up, I knew I could get back on track.  And, when the at-work meeting I went to was discontinued, I continued to lose weight using the website and app.  It took a year, but I met my goal. 

Weight Watchers has had it issues.  A lot of issues. At the beginning, I had to use their customer service several times, and was way less than impressed.

It also costs money. For that payment, you get support - as much as you need.  Meetings (which, if you have a good group leader, are wonderful).  Weekly (private) weigh ins at a Weight Watchers center.  Apps.  Websites.  Tools.  In my case, once my at work program ceased to exist (not enough participation) I continued to subscribe to the website and iPhone app, and met my weight goal.

This past October, billionaire entertainer, businesswoman and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey took a 10% stake in Weight Watchers, joined the Board of Directors and became a consultant.  If you have heard of Oprah, you know she has struggled with weight a lot of her life - gaining, losing, gaining, losing, with her public watching intently.  I give her a lot of credit for making her weight journey public.

Right after that, Weight Watchers had one of their periodic reboots.  Every several years, they change their program.  Existing members must decide if they want to continue what has worked for them, or embraced the new program.  For me and others I've read, the rollout was uneven. Features of the website were suddenly missing. The app was glitchy, many reported, and, for my older smart phone not on the current iOS, there was no more app, period.  But there was - Oprah.  She was losing weight on the program.  Everything was going to be all right.

But, as for me, I would be more impressed if Oprah had lost the weight on Weight Watchers - and then kept it off.  For several years.  And THEN became their spokesperson.

It can be done.  There are meeting leaders who have both talked the talk and walked the walk. I met one who was a lifetime member for over 20 years. These leaders have my admiration.  But, I'm sorry to say that Oprah has not yet walked this keeping it off walk.


It may be a lot of people were unhappy because last week I got the following email from Weight Watchers: (I am sharing this because the existence of the phone call is on the public part of their website. I've removed contact information.  In fact, the website is using the call as a recruitment tool.  To participate you have to become a member.

Becoming a part of the Weight Watchers family has been an awakening experience and I believe that together, we're just getting started. As we connect and share our stories, this special energy is only going to grow. ...





This is why I'm so excited to invite you to our special members-only LIVE call this Wednesday night, January 27..... Come join me. I'll be answering questions from members all over the country.





Send your question to me at (an email address) .... I can't wait for us to check in with each other...

Now, this implies Oprah herself is reading those emails. Maybe. Maybe not.  I doubt it; if anything she has assistants sorting out the emails for her and giving her a report of the major issues uncovered. That's what a smart businessperson would do - delegate.   And, Oprah is smart.

Now we will have to see if Oprah can do more than make emotional commercials.

You see, losing the weight is only part of the struggle.  In some ways, it's the easiest (and it isn't easy, so what does that tell you?) So...I'm sorry, but I'm not impressed.  I will not be at the phone call tonight.  I hope I can find out the results, but I won't through the website.

I quit Weight Watchers over the weekend.  Not what I've used to take off the weight and keep it off.  But the paid program. I will seek support elsewhere, where celebrities don't get involved.



Do you pay attention to celebrity endorsements?

31 comments:

  1. Congratulations Alana, on a successful journey of weight loss. A tremendous accomplishment. Sounds like you have mastered the program that best fit your needs. I may notice Celebrity Endorsements, but do not base my decisions on their say so.
    Sue at CollectInTexas Gal

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    1. Thank you. My husband, the family cook, gets a lot of the credit for this. He loves the "Points Plus" program. He never formally signed up, either, but educated himself, and wholeheartedly cooks the meals we need to keep our weight off.

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  2. I've gone back-and-forth with the opera involvement but definitely was not more expired yesterday when she announced her 26 pound weight loss and the stock skyrocketed :-) it's hard for everyone celebrity or not and we all strive for long-term maintenance

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    1. Yes, that long term maintenance is so hard...so very hard.

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  3. I've never understood how a TV personality or movie star makes something more desirable - do we really believe that they do what they say? I'm a cynical Aussie and I am much more impressed with the fact that you have lost weight and kept it off than I am with good old Oprah endorsing yet another product.

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    1. Thank you. I would have been so impressed if that woman/meeting leader I mentioned who had kept the weight off for twenty years had become their spokesperson! THAT is walking the walk. But she's not a celebrity, so who cares about her.

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  4. Good for you to stay focused on what works for you. Keep up the good work!!

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    1. Thank you. As I mentioned above, my husband deserves a lot of the credit.

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  5. While I no longer use my lifetime membership at WW, I still follow the program. I laughed when I saw Oprah's endorsement. Not the best choice for positive weight loss. Fluorine Mark is a local resident and WW is a pretty big deal around here.

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    1. Chuckling, because one of my cousins knew the "other" founder of Weight Watchers (yes, it was more than Jean Nidetch,the public face). An aunt in Brooklyn joined Weight Watchers somewhere around 1966 (?) not long after the first cookbook was published, and I even had a copy.

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    2. Just noticed that auto-correct misspelled Mark's first name by adding a 'u'.

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  6. Hollywood gets too much credit only if we give it to them.

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  7. Congrats, Alana, on your weight loss!

    Alana, you read my blog post about why I quit Weight Watchers. I would have ignored all the technical issues with the website if I felt the new version of the program was workable, but it isn't sustainable. I switched to counting calories and I've continued to have success.

    Weight Watchers, Nutrisystem and Jenny Craig have all used paid celebrity spokepersons. I don't have a problem with that. I didn't join WW because Jennifer Hudson was singing its praises on TV and I didn't quit because she isn't thir rep anymore.

    But Oprah is more than just a spokesperson, she's a part owner of the company. I'm resentful. Every time that woman tries a new weight loss method, she finds a way to make $$$$ from the experience. She isn't "one of us", she's making money off of us while pretending to be our new best friend. She's bringing in new business, sure, but she's a major turn off for a lot of people too.

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    1. I am going to follow this story with great interest because...well, because. MyFitnessPal may be what I use, or I will just continue with Points Plus and the material I've gathered in the last three plus years.

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    2. There's an Ipad app called Ultimate Food Diary, you can use it for Points Plus. I think there's an Andrid version of the app too.

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  8. A celebrity endorsement might snag my attention, but my Mamma taught me that an "endorsement" is often just a job. And I resent a company trying to use my fuzzy feeling for a particular celebrity to sell me something, so it sometimes backfires. What does work, though, is when a celebrity or TV show promotes something I like anyway: The show Chuck used to be blatant about its product placement for Subway; so, when I had a choice of fast food eateries, I would often prefer Subway (which I liked anyway). And I add my own congratulations on your success at dropping weight and keeping it off. It's the keeping it off I have trouble with!

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    1. Thank you. I do not set myself up as a great example of anything, except to say I hope I can continue to keep the weight off.

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  9. An interesting post to read! thanks for sharing your beautiful journey of weight loss.

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  10. This is a wonderful post. I was not aware all this was going on with WW. Can't think of a worse endorsement than Oprah, she goes up and down like a yo-yo. Like you I want someone who's kept their weight off for a period of time, enough to show it can be done. I also don't want a leader who's only lost 20 pounds, I'm not impressed. I'm diabetic & have found My Fitness Pal to be wonderful in keeping track of my calories & carbs. Thanks for this good information.

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  11. I'm leary of some of the celebrities endorsing products. You never really know if what ever they are advertising really happened because of the product or because of money. I tend to follow my gut or "normal" people who have had experience wit a product. Congrats on your weight loss!

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  12. My mom was one of the first (maybe the first) lecturer that Jean Nidetch hired to head up a group WAY back when. (When it was a teeny, tiny company for sure.) And, I can guarantee you that my mom gave her groups what they needed. (Her gift of gab - including being on the phone for four or five hours a day- were legendary.)
    Now, to your point. Oprah- or any celebrity- would not be an enticement to me. Yet, if I had to read a book, and a scientist I knew thought it was a great tome about the subject, I would take his/her word. But, to buy milk, potatoes, a diet... nope.

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  13. I joined Weight Watchers before ... twice. The last Points program sort of worked for me, but not that well. I did end up losing almost 20 lbs. but the weight came off so slowly and I plateau'd for months and eventually gave up... and gained weight again. I'm going to admit, I'm an Oprah fan. I was on the fence about joining WW again and reading a few things she wrote about it helped push me back over the fence. The new program is working much better for me. The points system seems smarter and my body is happily responding. Last time I lost .2 lbs at a time, this time the weight is going 1 - 2lbs/week. Loss is loss, but I'm happier now. I'm sorry that you've become so disillusioned with WW that you had to quit but glad you made your goal and the changes that mean long-term success.

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  14. Oprah definitely has a platform that commands my attention. I find that it's a brilliant business joint venture. As for it's effectiveness, I think different methods will work for different people. I love the founder and the method of Wildly Alive Weight Loss and am a guest coach on relationships for the group. It's a 'systems approach' to weight loss and seems to be perfect for the people that are participating. Good luck with everything!

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  15. No, I don't.

    My mother lost a bunch of weight with Weight Watchers in the '80s. A couple years later she gained it back. She's been on various diets throughout the years, but she still swears by Weight Watchers. And swears she's going back to it to lose the weight this time. Eventually.

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  16. I'm trying to gain weight, not lose it.

    "I've traveled a long and winding road."

    I've been to 49 states and a big share of Canada, I have plenty of war stories.

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  17. "Can't think of a worse endorsement than Oprah, she goes up and down like a yo-yo."

    Eat to live, don't live to eat.....

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  18. I love Oprah and I'm even glad she's able to make more money and happy she's taking off the pounds but like you, I would have been far more impressed if the woman who lost the weight and kept it off for twenty years were the spokesperson. I am NEVER impressed with celebrity endorsements. I've always seen them for what they are, great marketing.

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  19. I found this post eye-opening. I've actually been considering WW to finally lose the last of my baby weight but this gives me something to think about for sure. And no, a celebrity endorsing it doesn't matter to me, real people and their stories do.

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  20. Congrats on your weight loss journey and success. At one time, I may have been impressed with a celebrity losing weight from whatever program they are endorsing and working for, but I have seen way too many of them regain all of their weight and more. So no thank you. The weight loss program that I am on now will probably never be endorsed by a highly paid celebrity. It is still very controversial, even though it works. But this is not really a weight loss program, it is a lifetime commitment. Otherwise, you will undo all of your hard work.

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