Weight Watchers in Play

NEW YORK Weight Watchers has hired consultancy Pile and Co. to lead a review of its estimated $70 million ad account.

WPP Group’s Young & Rubicam in New York is the incumbent. The agency won the business three years ago in a Pile-led review.

BrandBuzz, a unit of Y&R Brands, is expected to defend on Y&R’s behalf, per sources. A Y&R representative declined to comment.

Boston-based Pile confirmed that it had been hired to manage the competition but referred other questions to client officials, who could not immediately be reached.

In the last review in 2004, the search came down to Y&R and Omnicom Group’s TBWA\Chiat\Day in New York. The creative incumbent, independent Seiden Group in New York, did not participate. The media incumbent, Interpublic Group’s Lowe, also pitched for creative chores.

Y&R ultimately won creative, with WPP sibling GroupM in New York adding media duties.

Client spending in measured media fell just short of $70 million last year, up nearly $20 million from 2005, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

The decision to hold a review was mainly motivated by client-side management changes, sources said. CEO David Kirchoff, North American communications chief Cheryl Callan and director of advertising Carl Swedberg all joined the New York-based company in the past year.