With Winfrey, Weight Watchers has sought to reinvigorate the struggling weight-loss brand and stem declining revenue trends. The company has used celebrity representatives in the past, such as Jennifer Hudson and Jessica Simpson, and seen short-term improvement in recruitment.
In February, Weight Watchers reported fourth-quarter results that disappointed, although the December quarter is usually not seen as big for actual recruitment activity. Still, Weight Watchers CEO Jim Chambers in discussing the fourth-quarter performance during the company's conference call in February said it was "the first time since 2011 we had positive year-over-year global recruitments."
"Certainly, Oprah opens up a lot of credibility and adds some new potential marketing synergies with all her different media properties," said Morningstar analyst R.J. Hottovy. "But at the same time, I am not sure how well that works with that kind of younger audience."
Founded in the 1960s, Weight Watchers is facing more competition than ever in the $65 billion weight-loss business. Numerous calorie-counting mobile apps have become available, as well as wearable fitness devices that track calories and weight. Some have suggested the Weight Watchers brand and interest in classroom weight-loss meetings may be fading, too, as millennials and even some baby boomers look to technology and more mobility.