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McCann Half Asses Weight Watchers

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Although we live in New York City, we have zero intention of slogging through Times Square to see the latest addition to the billboard menagerie. Weight Watchers and Special K are launching electronic billboards tonight in the fight against fat.

The cereal maker is promoting its Special K Challenge, a diet program developed four years ago that includes a range of Special K products. From The New York Times:

“That’s the biggest moment of self-evaluation of the year. We want to be part of the resolution,” said Per Jacobson, a creative director at Leo Burnett in Chicago.

Meanwhile, Weight Watchers is pushing their “Stop Dieting. Start Living” slogan, which is the first effort from their new agency McCann Erickson New York.

Oh yes! Here comes the genius of McCann. Hold your hats kids. Lori Senecal, the head of McCann Erickson New York, said that the Weight Watchers system is “a natural fit for the modern dieter. But, she said, the brand needed some updating.”

True. True. So, whatcha going to do McCann? Oh right! Lean on YouTube and user generated content, but of course! There’s also a MySpace page and YouTube video of old dieting gimmicks. The creativity just runs wild at McCann. Wild we tell you!

“The company will be soliciting user-generated content. Through Jan. 25, people will be able to send stories to the Weight Watchers Web site about the strangest or craziest diets they have tried. Some will be chosen to appear on the billboard in Times Square.”

Joyce King Thomas, chief creative officer of McCann Erickson New York, had a good thought when she said that these outlets could be a modern take on the classic Weight Watchers group meeting. Joyce is great. Like, one of the few things we like about that agency.

However, um… why is it that McCann, again, fails to go the extra mile? Remember the Applebee’s campaign? Another perfect example. It’s like, what – you guys can’t think beyond YouTube?

There are eight million diet based social networking sites out there. Why not tap directly into these established bases?

Or consider that women have long seen their phones as a tool for expression and social communication. Plus, a fairly new Pew research study makes it clear how connected we all our to the darn things. So… why not pull in mobile and really connect users to Weight Watchers (through upbeat messaging about the weight goals, connecting the consumers to one another a la Twitter, etc.).

Ugh. There’s so much more they could be doing, but we’re going to stop here. If you guys have your own feedback, thoughts, ideas, you know the drill – email us at agencyspy at mediabistro dot com or use the anon tip box and we’ll post.

We miss you guys.

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COMMENTS:

Comment #1:

Leo Burnett Chicago has for years bought billboard space to put up ads that their clients wouldn’t pay for, but would let them run. Did this for both the Army account when they had it and for McDonalds. Y&R Chicago also is known for buying space in odd, cheap magazines to run the fake ads they do. Both Burnett and Y&R have won major awards with the fake stuff they’ve done.

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