Weight Watchers Enlists Vlogger

NEW YORK Weight Watchers wants to go viral. As part of its latest campaign from Interpublic Group’s McCann Erickson here, the weight-loss company has hired Faint Starlite, a prolific video blogger.

Starlite, a 24-year-old woman from Milwaukee whose real name is Esther Brady, has been posting video blog entries since 2006 about a variety of topics, e.g., the economy, presidential politics and her weight loss after she joined Weight Watchers, which drew the client’s attention.

On Starlite’s Web page, www.myspace.com/weightwatchers, there are currently two videos. One is the 60-second spot McCann is running as part of the “Stop dieting, start living” campaign. That effort, which began earlier this month, is McCann’s first work for the brand since topping Omnicom Group’s DDB to win the estimated $70 million account last year.

Starlite introduces herself in the second video. She talks about what she hopes to accomplish, shows before-and-after pictures of herself and references the “Stop dieting, start living” campaign with animated words and pictures that come from the TV spot.

Weight Watchers expects Starlite to post updates weekly and interact with the online community. (The company screens her videos before they go online.) “We engaged in our relationship with Faint because of who she is. She is a spirited personality and passionate about the program. We feel comfortable about who she is,” said Cheryl Callan, svp, marketing North America, Weight Watchers, New York.

This is not the first time a brand has turned to an Internet personality to pitch its wares. Last year, Cherry Chocolate Dr Pepper enlisted Tay Zonday, best known as the voice behind the video “Chocolate Rain,” to shoot a music video-style, three-minute, Internet-only spot. Also last year, Canon’s domestic video division, through its agency Dentsu, used viral stars such as Gary “Numa Numa” Brolsma and Ricky “Lazydork.com” Stern in a promotion dubbed “Battle of the Viral Video Superstars.”

“We want her to be a brand apostle,” said Joyce King Thomas, CCO, McCann, New York. “We built her a place to live and we’re going to let it spread virally.”

While the video on MySpace uses elements from the current campaign, there are no current plans to incorporate Starlite into print or TV advertising. “We want her to do what she does: be a video blogger with a huge fan base,” said King Thomas.