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Weight Watchers’ Big Fat Marketing Dilemma – Businessweek

Jessica Simpson

Jessica Simpson isn’t getting fat. She’s just pregnant again. (Of course, she hasn’t yet confirmed the happy news, but her statement to People—”I’m not going to comment on this speculation”—is, in celebrity baby talk, the equivalent of posting a sonogram on her Facebook (FB) page.)

Either way, it’s a potential problem for Weight Watchers (WTW), which signed up Simpson as a spokeswoman less than a year ago. The endorsement deal, worth an estimated $3 million, wasn’t supposed to pay out in full until Simpson reached her weight goal. This fall, she was noticeably slimmer, rocking a pair of Daisy Dukes for the paparazzi in L.A.

Now the company has a quandary. No company can control when its spokespeople eat, work out, or procreate, a fact that creates special pitfalls for Weight Watchers and other companies selling the promise of weight loss. Kirstie Alley, star of Fat Actress, starred in commercials for Jenny Craig, only to regain the pounds she’d shed. Even Jared, who slimmed down at Subway, was snapped looking chubby several years after he rose to skinny fame. Weight Watchers declined to comment for this story.

If signing on famous people to lose weight is so unreliable, why do diet companies do it? It certainly would be easier (and cheaper) for Weight Watchers to find a more predictable spokesperson—say, a cartoon character they could slim down at will—or to abandon the spokesperson model entirely.

via Weight Watchers’ Big Fat Marketing Dilemma – Businessweek.



Instead of Holiday Socks, Why Not Help a Friend Travel? – Bloomberg

For all those reluctant holiday shoppers who hate long lines, Heddi Cundle has a suggestion: Give the gift of travel.

Cundle is the founder and self-titled “big cheese” of, a website she launched last year to help consumers, as well as their friends and family, save up for vacations. It’s still in the early days, but Cundle says that up to 100,000 people are visiting the site every month and about 40 percent of them are coming back.

“They’re saying, ‘This year I don’t want socks, I don’t want ties, just even put $10 on myTab,” said Cundle, a native of the U.K., who previously spent almost two decades in public relations and marketing.

To gift money or start a personal account, users can sign up with their Facebook credentials and have immediate access to their friends on the social network. They can then send a virtual gift card to a connection or set up a personal tab and ask others to contribute. By partnering with Expedia, myTab is able to access most major airlines and hotels for its customers. Currently, flights have to start in the U.S., though that is changing soon to incorporate international originations.

via Instead of Holiday Socks, Why Not Help a Friend Travel? – Bloomberg.

Why India’s yuppies want Starbucks-it’s not about the coffee | Kavitha Rao | Comment is free |

Starbucks has just opened its first store in India, in central Mumbai. Days after the opening, Mumbaikars, mostly the young, were still queuing for up to an hour to grab their frappucinos, while madly updating their Facebook statuses. Social commenters are bemused by the lemming-like flood. “Best coffee? No way. It’s all about feeling foreign and upper class,” sneered one sceptic. “Two decades after liberalisation, you’d imagine India’s young ‘uns would be jaded enough to shrug off the entrance of yet another global chain” mused popular website Mumbai Boss. “When can you say you went to the opening of the first ever Starbucks?” tweeted one unabashed groupie.

Me, I am somewhere in the middle. Starbucks is not our coffee messiah and deserves no genuflections. True, India is mainly a tea-drinking nation. However, southern India has always had a vibrant coffee culture. For many Indian taste buds, including mine, nothing beats strong frothy “filter” coffee from Coorg, India’s premier coffee producing area. As one commenter on the Guardian website rightly pointed out, you can get excellent coffee on every street corner for less than a few rupees.

However, coffee snobs are missing the point entirely. The Indian yuppie does not want to stand on a street corner, however good the coffee. Most streets here are awash with sewage, garbage and gaping manholes, so why would he or she? Sure, there are also plenty of darshinis and dhabas basic cafes and teahouses across India, where you can get excellent coffee or chai for a few rupees, and be in and out in less than 10 minutes. But the potential Starbucks customer doesn’t want that. That’s what their daddy drank.

via Why India’s yuppies want Starbucks it’s not about the coffee | Kavitha Rao | Comment is free |

Facebook’s mobile surprise allays growth fears – Yahoo! News

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Facebook Inc grew mobile advertising revenue several times in the third quarter, a faster-than-expected pace that helped drive shares in the world’s No. 1 social network nearly 13 percent higher.

Facebook said on Tuesday that it now gets 14 percent of its advertising revenue from mobile ads, helping to reassure investors that the social network is beginning to figure out how to earn money off smartphone and tablet users.

Mobile ad revenues totaled roughly $150 million, up from an estimated $40 million to $50 million in the second quarter and almost nothing in the first.

“This certainly dispels the most bearish view, that Facebook couldn’t monetize people on phones or tablets,” said Colin Sebastian, an analyst with Robert Baird & Co.

“In about a six-month period they’ve actually started to generate decent revenues form their mobile applications,” Sebastian added, though he said Facebook still needs to show that its mobile ads can command the same rates as its traditional ads and that they can deliver results for marketers.

Mobile advertising has been among the key investor concerns hanging over Facebook, helping slash more than $40 billion off its market value since its May IPO. As its users increasingly access the social network with their smartphones, Facebook has struggled to transition its business to mobile devices.

The mobile ads helped reignite Facebook’s overall advertising business during the third quarter, following several consecutive quarters of slowing revenue growth that raised questions about Facebook’s long-term prospects.

via Facebook’s mobile surprise allays growth fears – Yahoo! News.

British TV app Zeebox comes stateside | MediaFile | Analysis & Opinion |

Are your Facebook friends or Twitter followers tired of your incessant posts about The Voice or Game of Thrones? Enter Zeebox, a new app available in the U.S. catered to the most avid TV watchers to keep the conversation going while a show is being aired.

Comcast, the largest U.S. cable company and its entertainment unit, NBC Universal, are investing in a start-up called “Zeebox”, which makes an app meant to be a so-called “second screen” used by viewers while they are watching television.

The companies declined to provide financial details of Comcast’s stake. UK TV provider BSkyB invested a reported $15 million in the company in January. The free app has already gained some popularity in the UK, where it has 1.5 million users signed up.

More than 300 shows across 28 Comcast-owned networks will be represented on the Zeebox app, said NBC Universal’s Executive Vice President of Strategic Integration Page Thompson.

NBC already has apps designed to complement live TV shows such as an e-book based on the supernatural show “Grimm” and viewers using Zeebox will be able to find it easier, Thompson said. NBC will also launch an ad campaign on TV and the Internet in October which will encourage viewers to weigh in on Zeebox while watching TV.

via British TV app Zeebox comes stateside | MediaFile | Analysis & Opinion |

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