Oprah Nabs 10% Stake In Weight Watchers, Makes Shares Soar

Oprah Nabs 10% Stake In Weight Watchers, Makes Shares Soar
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Well-known media personality Oprah Winfrey has secured a ten per cent share of slimming firm Weight Watchers, which has led to the company’s shares surging over the past few hours.

Weight Watchers had been struggling to stay afloat, according to the Wall Street Journal, so the stake from the media mogul was no doubt a welcome investment. Her stake will also see her join the Board of Directors.

Winfrey will become a member of Weight Watchers and will become one of the faces for its advertising.

“Weight Watchers has given me the tools to begin to make the lasting shift that I and so many of us who are struggling with weight have longed for,” said Winfrey. “I believe in the program so much I decided to invest in the company and partner in its evolution.”

President and CEO of Weight Watchers International, Jim Chambers, added: “We are expanding our purpose from focusing on weight loss alone to more broadly helping people lead a healthier, happier life. Through our conversations, it became clear that there is tremendous alignment between Oprah’s intention and our mission.

“We believe that her remarkable ability to connect and inspire people to realise their full potential is uniquely complementary to our powerful community, extraordinary coaches and proven approach.”

The Wall Street Journal reported the company has been suffering from a slide in memberships over the past two years [paywall].

However, since the news of Winfrey’s endorsement and stake, the shares have risen sharply.

ABC News this morning is questioning how much influence Winfrey still has. While she’s arguably one of the most popular and well known celebrities in America, the ABC said she’d been slipping down the rungs since The Oprah Winfrey Show ended in 2011.

Neil Saunders, managing director of retail research firm Conlumino believed she was a good fit for the brand as she has already well-documented her weight-loss with her viewers.

However, analyst Efraim Levy believed her influence wasn’t as strong with the younger marketer.

In 2013 Winfrey topped Forbes’ list of most influential celebrities, albeit being down slightly from the previous year. Forbes estimates her net worth is around $3 billion.

However, The Guardian has reported Weight Watchers had previously been trying to move away from celebrity endorsement as a strategy. Clearly that is not the case anymore.

B&T has contacted Weight Watchers Australia for how it might affect the Australian market.

Lead image via GDN Online.

*A previous version of this article incorrectly stated Winfrey’s net worth was $3 million. It’s $3 billion. We’ve corrected this now.

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