After all the feasting, ’tis the season to be jowly. But soon it will seem like there’s no end to the parade of celebrity endorsers offering their particular, well-compensated-for weight-loss stories to egg on (hold the yolks in some cases) consumers toward achieving their own fat-reduction goals.
In a spot introducing the Weight Watchers 360° program breaking tomorrow, Jessica Simpson will be “flaunting her slimmed-down bod in a pair of tight jeans, figure-hugging black top and a fitted plaid shirt” after losing 50 pounds in seven months after giving birth, Christina Everett reports in the New York Daily News.
And while Jenny Craig has the likes of Valerie Bertinelli and Nutrisystem has Marie Osmund (as well as Janet Jackson and Jillian Reynolds, who is not quite your everyday “46-year-old mom of two”), a new campaign from Medifast deliberately “eschews celebrities,” as Andrew Adam Newman disclosed in the New York Times last week.
The campaign, which breaks New Year’s Day, “will introduce viewers to three Medifast clients with real weight-loss success stories by asking the question: "What if you could have a conversation with your leaner, healthier self?," according to a company release.
Newman writes about a spot featuring Kimberley Vandlen, who is standing in a kitchen speaking to a woman whose back is to the camera. “You look beautiful, you do,” she says. “You look so beautiful.”
It turns out the woman she’s talking to is herself -- “but almost 50 pounds lighter -- and radiant. Voice quavering, the thinner Ms. Vandlen says, ‘This is all you.’”
“We just feel like people don’t connect as much with celebrities,” says Medifast CMO Brian Kagen. “Because they know that perhaps the celebrities also may have had a personal trainer or a personal chef, which normal people don’t have.”
“The idea of showing a person talking to her or himself at two different points in their weight loss journey was revolutionary,” according to John Colasanti, CEO of Solve, the Minneapolis-based agency that created the ads. “Beyond mastering the technical challenges, we were thrilled with the depth of emotion and honesty that surfaced in the unscripted dialogue.”
Perhaps there’s a pattern emerging here. A pitch I received last week for DDP Yoga System (tagline: “It Ain’t Your Mama’s Yoga, Heh-Heh”) points to a five-minute testimonial video that is “so incredible it’s almost unbelievable,” as one person I know remarked. “Never, Ever Give Up” follows former Gulf War paratrooper Arthur Boorman as he not only sheds 140 pounds but also the crutches he’d long depended on.
“For 15 years, doctors told me I would never walk unassisted again,” a crawl at the beginning of the video says. “I accepted this as fact.” Suffice to say that the docs were very wrong, and Boorman gives full credit to the aerobic, low-impact workout put together by ex-wrestler Diamond Dallas Page that combines some yoga positions with dynamic resistance, active breathing techniques and power movements.
Meanwhile, Life Time Fitness, a publicly traded company based in Chanhassen, Minn., with 105 “healthy way of life destinations across the United States and Canada,” is putting its own stamp on the “get real” movement with the Commitment Day 5K on Jan. 1.
With an inaugural event in 30 or so cities hoping to attract 300,000 participants or more, it’s described as “aimed at curtailing resolution failure once and for all, encouraging Americans to band together and start the year off on the right foot” -- whether you run, walk or roll. Corporate partners include Staples, Best Buy, lululemon and Whole Foods.
But remember that the journey to fitness is a step-by-doable step process. Dr. Alexis Colvin, a runner and yoga practitioner herself, as well as being a sports medicine expert and orthopedic surgeon affiliated with Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, passes along these tips in a well-timed PR campaign:
Oh, and if you’re exercising to your beats with a new iPod come tomorrow, consider donating your old device to the Memory and Music project, which provides personalized music programs to seniors suffering from dementia. NPR’s Melissa Block did an excellent piece about Memory and Music in April; a friend of mine tells me his mom, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s, is totally transformed when she puts on her headphones and hums along with Frank Sinatra. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, indeed.