Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig in Battle over Ads

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Weight Watchers International is suing rival weight loss company Jenny Craig over ads that the company calls misleading and deceptive. A New York federal court judge has issued a restraining order against Jenny Craig, ordering the company to pull the ad featuring spokesperson Valerie Bertinelli that claims a clinical study has proven that the pre-packaged meal system is twice more effective than “its leading competitor.”

While the weight loss rival is not mentioned, Weight Watchers is considered to be the most popular commercial weight loss program in the United States.

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Weight Watchers also states that no such head-to-head study has been conducted, nor are the claims in the ad supported by fact or science. President of Weight Watchers International, David Kirchhoff says that the comparison made by Jenny Craig used studies conducted 10 years apart with different participants.

Lewis Rose, attorney for Jenny Craig, says “We believe that when the court finally hears all of the evidence…(they) will side with us and agree that our advertising claims are truthful.”

Weight Watchers, founded in 1963, offers both in-person and online tools that track food intake through a proprietary Points system. Members can eat any food they wish, as long as the total daily intake does not exceed their allotted number of points. The program also encourages physical activity, allowing additional “food points” in exchange for “activity points.” Kirchhoff explains that the company is constantly evolving to meet consumer needs, and is currently on its 4th generation of products and services. Celebrity spokespersons have included Sarah, the Dutchess of York, and Jenny McCarthy.

Jenny Craig, Inc was founded in Melbourne, Australia in 1983 and moved to Carlsbad, California in 1985. The company became a part of Nestle Nutrition in 2006. The program combines nutrition and physical activity with counseling to help clients change lifestyle and eating habits. During the active weight loss phase, clients purchase prepackaged foods from either a local center or through the Jenny Craig At Home program. Many celebrities have enjoyed weight loss success through Jenny Craig, including Kirstie Alley and Valerie Bertinelli. The most recent addition to the celebrity spokesperson circle is Seinfeld’s Jason Alexander who has set a goal to lose 30 pounds through the weight-loss program.

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