Most exciting development for Weight Watchers’ top marketer? Oprah, of course!
Get to Know: Weight Watchers Senior Vice President of Marketing Maurice Herrera
In October 2014, Maurice Herrera was named senior vice president of marketing for Weight Watchers, overseeing all marketing functions for the brand, including advertising, public relations, digital and social media, product licensing and customer relationship management.
“I came to Weight Watchers with more than 15 years of marketing experience across food, beverage and confectionery categories,” says Herrera who has held brand and marketing leadership roles for the likes of Pepsi, Campbell’s Soup, Pillsbury, V8 vegetable juice and Trident gum.
In May, Herrera’s team launched its “Better Together” campaign with the weight loss company’s most famous partner, Oprah Winfrey. Kicking-off the campaign with a sweepstakes that includes a Grand Prize five-day trip to a holistic retreat, “Better Together” is scheduled to run through October 31.
“Last year, we formed a strategic partnership with Oprah Winfrey, who became an investor, board member, adviser, and member of Weight Watchers,” says Herrera, “That partnership has helped us to accelerate the business and brand transformation path we’ve been on since 2013.”
During a phone interview, I asked Herrera about Weight Watchers’ partnership with Winfrey and how it has impacted the brand.
“The reason why she decided to take a personal stake in this company — which is the first time she’d ever done anything like this — is because she really saw where we were going from a strategic standpoint of evolving beyond the scale, and knowing this isn’t just about your behavior, but also what you do, and, as importantly, how you’re feeling — and trying to live your best self.”
According to Herrera, the “Better Together” campaign was inspired by Winfrey.
“Oprah has often said that life is better when you share it, and we’ve taken that inspiration to encourage our members to invite friends, families and co-workers to join them at Weight Watchers.”
Prior to Weight Watchers, Herrera served as the CMO for Materne where he helped the company’s GoGo squeeZ™ fruit product reach its highest market share since 2009. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Math and Economics from Binghamton University and an MBA from The University of Michigan.
What mobile device can you not live without?
My phone is my go-to, and dictation is a huge time-saver. Whether I’m checking my calendar to see where I need to be for my next meeting, emailing my team with an update in direction or texting my family, I love that I can talk to my phone rather than relying on my thumbs, which are not nearly as fast as my teenagers’ are!
Which apps do you use most often for work?
I’ve come to rely on LinkedIn quite a bit to learn more about the people I’m meeting with — from mutual connections to interesting brands or projects they’ve worked on, it helps to establish some common ground and connection from the start.
What social media network or website do you frequent most when you’re not working?
I enjoy Facebook because it helps me stay connected with friends, family and colleagues I don’t see all the time, but in a way that fits into my day.
Whether it’s a funny picture or an interesting story, I like seeing what the people I know are sharing, and I can jump in when I feel I have something interesting or funny to add.
What’s the first thing you check on your phone in the morning?
Usually, I’m checking to see how many new members joined Weight Watchers the prior day, as well as checking the top news sources to see the breaking news.
Take me through your typical workday.
There is no typical workday for me. At one moment, I could be focusing on pulling together a very high-level strategic vision for the business, and the next moment could be spent on what the next offer will be for our product.
No matter what I’m focused on, I like to stay engaged with my team and make myself visible. I have an open-door policy and like my team to know they can come to me whenever they need to.
What has been the most exciting work development during the past year?
Stewarding the brand transformation of Weight Watchers, which helped set us up to form a strategic partnership agreement with Oprah Winfrey.
What does your office look like?
My office is in a pretty high-traffic area where a lot of people pass by, and at Weight Watchers we have a lot of informal, drive-by conversations/meetings.
I try to keep my office and desk pretty clutter-free and the door open so people feel welcome to come in and share ideas, ask a question or just check in. I think my office also reflects my respect for life outside work because it has a lot of pictures of my family, which keeps everything in perspective.
How many miles have you traveled in the last 12 months?
I’ve traveled roughly 25,000 miles. The most interesting place I’ve been over the last year is Malmo, Sweden, for a global marketing meeting with my Weight Watchers counterparts from around the world, where we shared with one another the different ways to continue to evolve and build the Weight Watchers brand.
What work challenge keeps you up at night?
Balancing doing while still infusing out-of-the-box thinking.
Can you tell us about a campaign or work project you’d like to do over?
I don’t think anything is ever executed that couldn’t have been done just a little bit better. This leads to a continuous improvement mindset which for a marketer is key to success.
At a macro level, I would say that — for times when there was a one-off newsworthy event (e.g., new product launch, promotion, product improvement) — the team frequently concludes that there was opportunity to do even more to drive awareness to make the most of that investment.
Tell me about the people who have been most influential in your career.
The most influential people have been some of my prior bosses. While I worked for them, they were very empowering — which led me to operate at my best — and afterwards, they served as great sounding boards for making some key career decisions.
What traits does a person need to succeed in your position?
“Stratecution” — a really good balance of strategic thinking and executing with excellence.
Can you tell us something about yourself that your team would be surprised to know?
During the beginning of my career, public speaking would be the absolute last thing I’d ever want to do. I came from a background in math — numbers were my thing, not speaking.
Now, I’m really comfortable in front of a room. One of the things I say to myself when I take the stage is to make it good. Time is valuable, so let’s not waste anyone’s time.
Why did you go into marketing?
My first job out of college was in the circulation department for a publishing company called K-III Magazines. There I learned that marketing could entail both creativity and analytical problem-solving.
When I explored all the different careers in marketing (during my lunch hour at the NYC library), I came across a career in brand management, which resonated when I read about the entrepreneurial aspect of running a business.
What other career would you like to try, and why?
At my core, I love to tell insightful stories that influence attitudes and behaviors, so another path would be a career counselor for college students.
Choosing your career is one of the most impactful decisions you will ever make in your life, yet so many students make the decision based on what they believe they should do versus something that takes advantage of their innate abilities and interests. I still remember how my math professor encouraged me to be an actuary because the money and job security were really good.
What’s the last business book you read, and what did you think of it?
Maybe it is a sign of the times, but I’ve been doing less reading and more podcasting. I particularly enjoy the TED podcasts. They’re bold and rousing, and they often spark new ideas.
Outside of your company’s efforts, what ad campaign or video caught your eye recently?
Being at Weight Watchers, and a father of twin girls, I am particularly keen on campaigns that portray women in an empowered manner. The Under Armour “I Will” campaign embodied this and was executed in a bold and breakthrough manner by partnering with with the likes of Misty Copeland, a maverick on many levels.