Weight Watchers vs. Jenny Craig: The Ad War

Obesity has steadily increased over the past 30 years. About one-third of American adults are considered obese. The diet industry, which doubled in size between 1990 and 2000, has been projected to take in almost $70 billion in 2010. The most telling statistic is that two-thirds of people who lose weight on a diet gain it back within one year. This suggests behavior modification is necessary and that the lure of losing weight easily should be avoided.

There is an ongoing debate about whether advertising agencies carry the responsibility to walk away from questionable advertising. Some diet services are expensive and don't result in sustainable weight loss for the majority of people who use them, while they directly compete against programs that are more upfront about the challenges and the path to long-term weight loss. A couple of weeks ago, "Seinfeld" star Jason Alexander signed on as the latest Jenny Craig spokesman. As we watch this urban everyman shrink while he assures the public it was painless and he ate the food he loves; I can't help but think of the famous Yogi Berra line that it's going to be "déjà vu all over again."

The work is the opinion of the columnist and does not reflect the opinion of ABC News.

Larry D. Woodard is president and CEO of Vigilante, a New York advertising agency that develops consumer-centric advertising campaigns. He is also chairman of the American Association of Advertising Agencies New York Council and the recipient of many prestigious industry awards, including two O'Toole Awards for Agency of the Year, the London International Award, Gold Effie, Telly, Mobius, Addy's and the Cannes Gold Lion. A blogger and a frequent public speaker, Woodard enjoys discussing the intersection of media, politics, entertainment and technology.

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