Feeling Weightless

Weight Watchers Is Losing Weight (From Its Name)

WW LogoWeight Watchers has just performed a neat trick. It lost a ton of dead weight and gained 4.5 percent on its stock price. All in one day. Henceforth, the company formerly known as Weight Watchers shall be simply WW. Wellness that Works.™

A Long Time Coming

The handwriting has been on the wall for years now. The foundation for big change appeared in 2015, when Oprah signed on as a spokesperson. Shortly after that, the company unveiled new branding – “Beyond the Scale.” That campaign was all about wellness beyond short-term weight loss.

The value of the company rose as the new wellness emphasis gained traction. But still, that name was a burden. Every day, consumers were growing less and less interested in watching weight. You could count on body positivity activists to attack anything the company tried to do. No matter how well founded it might be.

No doubt about it. Weight Watchers had to lose the weight from its name.

Cynical Nod to Wellness Hype or Sound Science?

This change is like a Rorschach test. People can see anything they want in it. Writing for Quartz,  Sangeeta Singh-Kurtz sees a perfect metaphor for the hypocrisy of wellness. We would say she has very low standards for hypocrisy. She should glance at Goop or Dr. Oz if she wants to see paragons of hypocrisy.

As if to prove our point, Quartz also published “The Uncynical Way to Look at Weight Watchers’ Name Change.” Right alongside the piece by Singh-Kurtz, Lila MacLellan found a higher purpose in the WW move. She found a company that was no longer willing to let folks like Gwyneth Paltrow claim the high ground of wellness. She sees renewed pride in the company and a higher purpose at work.

We’re okay with healthy skepticism. We’re also fine with a brand that’s ready to be bold and step away from obsolete notions of health and weight. WW has a good record of bringing sound science to its business. But the proof will come with long-term outcomes.

Click here for further analysis from Fortune.

Feeling Weightless, photograph by Bianca Moraes, licensed under CC BY 2.0

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September 25, 2018