Suissa Miller Again Defends Jenny Craig Account

New Client Managers Evaluate Options on $20 Mil.-Plus Business
LOS ANGELES–Barely a month after installing new management, national weight-loss chain Jenny Craig has launched a creative review for its $20 million-plus account. Incumbent Suissa Miller will defend the business. Media buying, handled by Carat North America, is unaffected by the search.
Key among the new leaders at Jenny Craig are president and COO Patti Larchet, who joined from Jenny Craig Australia, and vice president of marketing Barbara Barry, a 20-year veteran of retail advertising whose background includes posts at Unocal 76 and 3-Day Blinds. Barry will lead the agency selection committee, which also includes Larchet, vice president of operations Norma Hubble and senior director of marketing Sue Duffy.
“We’re trying to focus on becoming customer-centric,” said Barry, adding that the review has not been called because of dissatisfaction with Los Angeles-based Suissa Miller.
“We are very much a new team coming in. I’ve been here barely three weeks,” Barry said. “First of all, we need good strategic thinking, and of course, great creative, and an agency that can really analyze our business and not just win awards.”
Barry said the company, which mainly uses TV advertising, also wants to look at opportunities in direct response, online and other media channels.
Suissa Miller is no stranger to competing to keep its six-year client. In 1998, it defended the account in a competition that included finalists The Richards Group, Dallas, and WongDoody, Los Angeles. “We welcome the opportunity to defend,” said agency CEO David Suissa.
Jenny Craig operates 550 weight-loss centers around the country, but has been in restructuring mode, closing 89 outlets between March 1999 and March 2000. The company reported a decrease in revenues of 4 percent in the first quarter compared to 1999, which it attributed to the closures.
Last May, Jenny Craig endured a wave of controversial publicity when it ran a $7 million campaign featuring testimonials from Monica Lewinsky. K