Weight Watchers International’s stock grew even more after the company’s backer and most famous customer, Oprah Winfrey, lost 40 pounds. The shares increased 14 percent after Oprah reported losing 40 pounds with the program. The weight loss company’s shares fell 54 percent this year before Thursday’s increase.
They are now releasing new TV ads with Winfrey that promote her weight loss. The talk-show host is now a centerpiece of Weight Watcher’s comeback plan, which began last year when she bought stakes in the company and joined the board.
When Weight Watchers first announced their deal with Oprah in October 2015, their shares more than doubled in one day. Winfrey’s Weight Watchers endorsements gave the stock a temporary jolt. Last December, shares increased 27 percent in two days when Oprah tweeted a video about using the program. There was also a 20% jump in January after Oprah said she lost 26 pounds while still eating bread daily.
The latest marketing plans begin next week right before the New Year. The coming weeks are important for Weight Watchers: In the first quarter, they usually add about 40 percent of their new customers, when resolutions motivate people to begin dieting.
The rise of free fitness apps have hit Weight Watchers hard. But Winfrey’s widespread influence has brought hope to the brand. Weight Watchers has added new subscribers for three quarters straight after years of declines.
The New York-based company hopes that Oprah’s new ads, emphasizing that she still eats pasta and tacos, will prove to dieters that their updated program is an effective weight-loss tool.
Despite the increase in subscribers, it’s been a rocky year for Weight Watchers. The company has billions in debt, and their stocks are heavily shorted. When Chief Executive Officer Jim Chambers announced leaving the company in September, it sent shares plummeting to their lowest in nearly a year.
Chambers was working to turn the business around, included revamping their nutrition program and adding social-networking to their app. Now, Weight Watchers is lead by three executives who constitute the “interim office of the CEO.”
The upcoming ads show Oprah doing yoga and cooking pasta. As consumers change their perception of wellness, Weight Watchers also changes to emphasize that weight loss and indulgence aren’t mutually exclusive.