Jenny Craig Picks Y&R

LOS ANGELES Jenny Craig has selected WPP Group’s Y&R in Irvine, Calif., to handle creative chores on its estimated $60 million ad account following a review, the client has confirmed.

The client concluded final pitches two weeks ago. The other finalists were Omnicom Group’s DDB in San Francisco (with Venice, Calif.), independent Butler, Shine, Stern in Sausalito, Calif., and Publicis & Hal Riney in San Francisco.

Blank and Associates, a consulting firm in Laguna Niguel, Calif., helped guide the search.

Incumbent JWT in New York, a unit of WPP, which has handled the account since June 2004, did not participating in the process.

Scott Parker, CMO, Jenny Craig, said, “We’re looking to see the first work in mid-first quarter. We need to make sure that our messaging rises above the cacophony and noise of the weight loss market and stays on target as a proven, safe and effective program. We have nothing but respect for our partners at JWT, they did great work and we liked the folks there. But we wanted a closer geographic partner because our business changes day to day; we believe that we can have added strength in direct response [with Wunderman] and celebrity management [through WPP’s Alliance]. We were very impressed with [Y&R’s managing partner] Rick [Eiserman] and his team.”

Media duties, handled by Aegis Group’s Carat, were not in review.

In the proposal request issued in August, the client said that it wishes to continue celebrity-centered marketing efforts. Currently, the Carlsbad, Calif.-based company uses Kirstie Alley and Valerie Bertinelli to pitch its weight-loss program.

Jenny Craig, a unit of Nestle, spent $60 million in domestic measured media in 2006 and $45 million through August 2007, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus. That represents a steady rise from $30 million in 2004 and $40 million in 2005.

This story updates an earlier item with client confirmation and comments.