Weight Watchers Sues Jenny Craig Over Deceptive Advertising

Jan 19, 2010, 10:37 ET from Weight Watchers International, Inc.

NEW YORK, Jan. 19 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Weight Watchers International, Inc. (NYSE: WTW), the global leader in weight-management services, today announced it has filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York for injunctive relief and damages against Jenny Craig, Inc. ("Jenny Craig").  Weight Watchers seeks to prohibit Jenny Craig from continuing its current false and misleading advertising campaign, which makes deceptive claims about the success of their program versus the Weight Watchers program that are not supported by fact or science.

Jenny Craig is currently running an advertising campaign that seeks to mislead and deceive consumers into believing Jenny Craig's claims are based on a head-to-head scientific study comparing Weight Watchers current weight-loss program and Jenny Craig's pre-packaged meals system.  No such study was done or exists and the claims made in these ads are not supported by fact or science.

The complaint states that to support Jenny Craig's claims, generally accepted standards of biomedical research require Jenny Craig to compare the two current offerings of both companies through a head-to-head randomized clinical trial.  The ads mislead consumers into believing such a trial has taken place.  Rather, Jenny Craig chose to make a purported scientific claim by twisting the findings of an irrelevant 10-year-old Weight Watchers study against a new Jenny Craig study, instead of running a head-to-head clinical trial which Jenny Craig was free to do.  In fact, neither of the two studies cited by Jenny Craig, both of which were conducted with different research purposes and protocols, actually compares the efficacy or success of Jenny Craig to Weight Watchers.

"It is outrageous that Jenny Craig is trying to trick and fool consumers through this blatantly misleading advertising campaign, which makes clearly false and unsupported claims.  Not only do the cited studies fail to support any sort of superiority or efficacy claim against Weight Watchers offerings, past or present, but also Jenny Craig is well aware of the fact the Weight Watchers program, service and product offerings have changed significantly over the past decade.  The fact that Jenny Craig chose to deceptively try to compare themselves to Weight Watchers in a manner that is clearly unsupported by fact or science suggests to us a lack of confidence in their own current offerings," said David Kirchhoff, Weight Watchers President and Chief Executive Officer.

Mr. Kirchhoff continued, "Putting aside Jenny Craig's deceptive marketing practices, the fact remains that Weight Watchers is unique in its approach to help its members achieve healthy and sustainable weight loss through our focus on education, behavior change, exercise and support.  Weight Watchers does not require the purchase of pre-packaged meals to lose weight.  Instead, it is the philosophy of Weight Watchers to help people learn how to make food and lifestyle choices in the real world in order to achieve real and lasting weight loss results.  For more than 45 years, Weight Watchers has been the gold standard for successful weight loss programs.  We simply cannot stand aside and watch a competitor distort the truth and mislead consumers in such a blatant and disreputable way."

The lawsuit also explains in detail that Weight Watchers is now on its 4th generation program since the decade-old program examined in the Weight Watchers study that Jenny Craig is using to deceive consumers.  Each generation of the Weight Watchers program has allowed the Company to incorporate the latest science and make its program more flexible and livable so it can translate into real world results for consumers.  In addition, Weight Watchers has made substantial innovations over the last decade in its service, product and other offerings such as its Monthly Pass offering, now used by over 60 percent of Weight Watchers members in Company-owned locations, that combines unlimited Weight Watchers classes with a robust suite of internet tools and content.

About Weight Watchers International, Inc.

Weight Watchers International, Inc. is the world's leading provider of weight management services, operating globally through a network of Company-owned and franchise operations. Weight Watchers holds over 50,000 weekly meetings where members receive group support and learn about healthy eating patterns, behavior modification and physical activity. WeightWatchers.com provides innovative, subscription weight management products over the Internet and is the leading Internet-based weight management provider in the world.  In addition, Weight Watchers offers a wide range of products, publications and programs for those interested in weight loss and weight control.

This news release and any attachments include "forward-looking statements," within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, or the Exchange Act, including, in particular, earnings guidance and any statements about the Company's plans, strategies and prospects. The Company generally uses the words "may," "will," "could," "expect," "anticipate," "believe," "estimate," "plan," "intend" and similar expressions in this news release and any attachments to identify forward-looking statements. The Company bases these forward-looking statements on its current views with respect to future events and financial performance. Actual results could differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are subject to risks, uncertainties and assumptions, including, among other things: competition from other weight management industry participants or the development of more effective or more favorably perceived weight management methods; the Company's ability to continue to develop innovative new services and products and enhance its existing services and products, or the failure of its services and products to continue to appeal to the market; the effectiveness of the Company's marketing and advertising programs; the impact on the Weight Watchers brand of actions taken by the Company's franchisees and licensees; risks and uncertainties associated with the Company's international operations, including economic, political and social risks and foreign currency risks; the Company's ability to successfully make acquisitions or enter into joint ventures, including its ability to successfully integrate, operate or realize the projected benefits of such businesses; uncertainties related to a downturn in general economic conditions or consumer confidence; the seasonal nature of the Company's business; the impact of events that discourage people from gathering with others; the Company's ability to enforce its intellectual property rights both domestically and internationally, as well as the impact of its involvement in any claims related to intellectual property rights; uncertainties regarding the satisfactory operation of the Company's information technology or systems; risks associated with unauthorized penetration of the Company's information security; the impact of disputes with the Company's franchise operators; the  impact of existing and future laws and regulations; the impact of the Company's debt service obligations and restrictive debt covenants; the possibility that the interests of the Company's majority owner will conflict with the other holders of the Company's common stock; and other risks and uncertainties, including those detailed from time to time in the Company's periodic reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. You should not put undue reliance on any forward-looking statements. You should understand that many important factors, including those discussed herein, could cause the Company's results to differ materially from those expressed or suggested in any forward-looking statement. Except as required by law, the Company does not undertake any obligation to update or revise these forward-looking statements to reflect new information or events or circumstances that occur after the date of this news release or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events or otherwise. Readers are advised to review the Company's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (which are available from the SEC's EDGAR database at www.sec.gov, at various SEC reference facilities in the United States and via the Company's website at www.weightwatchersinternational.com).

Contact Information:


Weight Watchers International, Inc.

Powell Tate

Donna Fontana

Hallie Bozzi

Public Relations

(212) 445-8276

(212) 589-2739

SOURCE Weight Watchers International, Inc.