Curves Flexes Muscles Against Weight Watchers

Curves is going head-to-head with competitor Weight Watchers in a new campaign this week that promotes its new 30-day diet plan.

The push marks the first time that Curves, an international women’s fitness chain, has tackled a competitor directly with its advertising. A TV ad, running on national cable networks, advertises the chain’s month-long diet plan. It shows a woman heading to Weight Watchers as a van pulls up in front of her, full of other women who insist on taking her to Curves (which, coincidentally, is two doors over). Once inside, Curves professionals introduce the woman to the new diet plan, convincing her to sign up. The spot ends with the woman stopping another dieter from joining Weight Watchers.

Agencies involved in the campaign include Publicis, Dallas, which handled television, radio and print duties, and Apollo Interactive, which created the online ads that are now running on Yahoo! and MSN, among other sites.

Curves—which spent $9 million on advertising last year, excluding online, per Nielsen—has over 10,000 locations in more than 60 countries, and utilizes a cardio and strength training approach that can burn up to 500 calories in 30 minutes. Weight Watchers, on the other hand, uses a points-based food assessment rating to achieve weight loss. The new campaign aims to position Curves as both a fitness and diet brand by “showing us as a real alternative to what [Weight Watchers] does,” said Mike Raymond, president of Curves International.    

Print ads, likewise, take a subtle jab at Weight Watchers. “Curves new 30-day diet plan. No elaborate point systems or eliminating foods, just simple solutions to help you eat better, lose weight and keep it off for good,” the text for one ad reads.

Raymond said the campaign is intended to appeal to “any woman who is currently or has considered a diet program,” or, 56 percent of females over the age of 18. “We think the combination of having some real, competitive advantages when it comes to weight loss and dieting, plus being the gold standard in fitness represents the perfect solution for women to lose weight with,” he said.

Weight Watchers, meanwhile, is charging ahead with its “Momentum” campaign, which first launched in November. Ads, via McCann Erickson, New York, show a furry orange monster (Hunger), tempting dieters with high-calorie foods. In each instance, the consumer pushes him away and reaches for hunger-quenching foods that keep the body feeling full longer.

Another competitor, Atkins, introduced a campaign in July, which touts the variety of food one can eat while on its high protein, low-carb diet.