Weight loss programs will use all kinds of tricks and techniques to entice you to buy in — from discounts and free food to real life testimonials. Lately, the weight loss market has been flooded with a glut of famous faces shilling for one company or another, promising that by sticking with the program customers can lose 20, 30 or 40 pounds.
But what happens when the celebrity spokesperson doesn’t lose, but gain? Or loses the weight, only to yo-yo back up to their pre-program weight?
The average Weight Watchers, Nutrisystem or Jenny Craig customer can gain weight back under the cover of obscurity. But for celebs who sign up to be the face of these programs, the stakes are much higher. Gain the weight back and everyone sees you. That’s what happened to Carnie Wilson, who struggled with her weight for much of her life. In 1999, Wilson went for gastric bypass surgery, but eventually gained the weight back. She signed up to be the spokesperson for Fresh Diet, a food delivery service that provides healthy meals, but was fired as their spokesperson in 2010, after gaining weight on the program. According to the company’s spokesperson, Ezzy Duchman, “We had to take her off the corporate website because she has not been a successful case. She didn’t stick to it, and she didn’t lose weight. We had to cut ties with her.”
And then there’s Kirstie Alley, who was tied to Jenny Craig’s program. Alley famously even had a TV show about her largesse called “Fat Actress,” before becoming a Jenny Craig spokesperson and losing 75 pounds. Alley appeared on magazine covers and on Oprah before gaining it all back and launching a second reality TV show about her weight loss efforts, “Kirstie Alley’s Big Life.” Now she’s developed her own line of weight loss products with some of her Scientology friends, called Organic Liaison. These days, Carrie Fisher, Dan Marino and Valerie Bertinelli all rep for the program–which may be part of the approach. If one person fails, the success of the others will bolster the product. And ultimately, it’s the product — not the utterly human foibles of the celebs who rep for them — that really matters here.
Alley and Wilson’s weight fluctuations are in part why Weight Watchers has limited using celebrity spokespeople — Lynn Redgrave, Jenny McCarthy, Sarah Ferguson and most recently Jennifer Hudson — to sell its product. With fewer celebrities in the public eye, there’s less of a chance that a famous dieter will be caught with their fingers in the cheesecake. Which is, incidentally, what Carnie Wilson is shilling for now. [NY Times]