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.
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?