Jenny Craig’s New CMO Dishes on Leading ‘Challenger’ Brand

Leesa Eichberger emphasizes social engagement

Headshot of Christopher Heine

Leesa Eichberger last month became cmo of Jenny Craig and now looks to bolster the brand in the healthy eating niche. Eichberger's two-decade marketing resume entails a dozen years in the telecom space, including long stays at Vonage (her most recent gig) and Cingular Wireless.

"They do certainly sound like different categories," she told Adweek. "My philosophy is that marketing is effective when you really understand the consumer. And it doesn't matter what category you are in—whether you are trying to get people to call India or trying to get people to make healthy lifestyle choices."

With strong competition from names like Weight Watchers and Nutrisystem, Eichberger said she's been in a similar marketplace position. "Jenny is a challenger brand, and I was in the same situation with Vonage," the brand exec said. "We cannot solely rely on a giant budget to out-shout our competition … We can break out of the clutter by using really targeted marketing."

More excerpts from an interview with Eichberger:

When you mention targeted marketing, are you speaking to digital, specifically, or to multichannel campaigns in general?

I have a hard time separating any form of advertising anymore. We cannot look at anything in a vacuum. Digital isn't a separate entity. It needs to be part of the whole picture. Digital, social, TV, direct mail, email … they all need to work together.

Facebook tends to be more about real-life relationships compared to Twitter. Is Facebook more effective than Twitter for Jenny Craig because people like to share personal stuff—such as healthy living or dieting—on the former platform more so than the latter?

To me, Jenny is an inherently social brand. Everything we do is about individuals and emotional connections. But yeah, Facebook is a very individual means of people communicating within their network and even with brands. And I think Jenny is a brand that lends itself to that kind of communication. But I believe Twitter can be effective as well—in addition to Instagram and Pinterest. What do people take pictures of? Food. There's a huge opportunity in the social space for our consultants to interact with both individuals and a larger group, educating them on what the brand can do for them.

Is there a social media program in place to teach those consultants best practices?

I cannot talk too much about our future projects. But I do think there is an opportunity for our consultants to interact with consumers. I'll leave it at that … I have a strong belief that our consultants are one of our key differentiators. Whether they talk to consumers directly on Facebook or we have other means of interacting with consumers on Facebook has yet to be determined.

Is there a digital channel where you think the brand could use some work?

There's room for improvement in any marketing plan. I think digital is an area where we can grow. And at some point, I'd like to look at mobile advertising. I have a passion for the mobile space, having spent a good part of my career there. And I think everyone knows that we aren't dealing with one screen anymore.

What's for lunch at Jenny Craig? Do people eat healthier there than other places of employment?

Yeah, we try to walk the talk. One thing about Jenny is that we try to educate people on how to eat. We try to be a long-term solution for healthy living. That's not to say there's not the occasional cheeseburger. That's [actually] part of the Jenny program. It lets you go off the program a couple days a week, and we practice that, too.

@Chris_Heine Christopher Heine is a New York-based editor and writer.