Weight Watchers has been around for more than 50 years, but the weight-loss program is just now experiencing the “Oprah effect.”
Shares of Weight Watchers International WTW jumped more than 90% during Monday trading after the company announced its new partnership with billionaire media personality Oprah Winfrey. The partnership includes Winfrey purchasing shares worth 10% of Weight Watchers, as well as options for the talk show host to buy an additional 5% of the company down the road.
Winfrey will join Weight Watchers’ board of directors and she will also become a member of the company’s weight-loss program, sharing her experiences with her millions of fans. “I believe in the program so much I decided to invest in the company and partner in its evolution,” Winfrey said in the joint statement with Weight Watchers.
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Weight Watchers stock jumped by more than half ahead of the opening bell Monday Morning — topping the $13-per share mark after closing Friday at $6.78 per share. The weight loss company is not the first brand to receive a boost from an association with Winfrey, who puts out an annual list of her “Favorite Things” to spotlight any number of products — from books and apparel to beauty products, electronics, etc. — many of which then experience a huge boost in popularity.
The boost from Winfrey’s investment comes at an important time for Weight Watchers, which had seen its stock fall more than 70% since the start of the year, and more than 90% since its all-time high in 2011. The membership in its weight-loss program has shrunk as an increasing number of people opt for free weight-loss apps, fitness wearables that come at a one-time cost, or a combination of both. Weight Watchers has historically turned to celebrity spokespeople to attract customers to its weight-loss program, with singer/actress Jennifer Hudson and Jessica Simpson each serving in that role recently.