The new Australian spot is unlike its unsubtle American predecessors in the weight-loss space. There’s no mention of food, diet, or celebrity — no svelte Jennifer Hudson serenading her former, larger, self. In fact,the ad, titled “Awaken Your Incredible,” is about every single personal struggle (from falling in love, to having a baby, to standing up for what you believe in at work) except for losing weight. If you don’t spot the small Weight Watchers’ insignia, you would never know what the inspirational ad was for.
Beauty companies have recently adopted the tactic of not even mentioning what their primarily cosmetic products do in their ads. Pantene Philippines doesn’t talk about how its shampoo makes your hair thicker and shinier, it inspires women to break down sexist workplace stereotypes. (Though it does promotes this theme with a #shinestrong hashtag which could be about hair or about our inner selves. The line is deliberately ambigous.) CoverGirl produces short documentaries on what “Girls Can” do. (Spoiler alert: everything). Dove famously talks about inner rather than outer beauty in a block buster series of videos that have been shared hundreds of millions of times. And empowerment advertising, although still seen as mining our insecurities by some, tends to go mega-viral because women are far more inclined to share a feel-good girl power message than a traditional ad–even when they know the goal of the spot is to encourage us to identify with a diet or cosmetic product.
Weight Watcher’s well-produced new spot, created by Australian ad agency BMF, is far more relatable than its recent American ads in which Charles Barkley rattles off 16 different names for “penis” — apparently with every 35 pounds a man loses, he gains one noticeable inch of his “Colonel Poker” — or Jessica Simpson runs seductively on a beach. You can imagine exhausted new mothers everywhere cringing as Simpson boasts about her svelte post-baby body. With the company’s stock struggling, we can only hope they consider bringing some of the feel good advertising to the United States. After all, the appetite for a glowing (gloating?) Jessica Simpson has surely been sated by now.