POUND FOR POUND

01.01.16 5:01 AM ET

How Oprah Created a Profitable Weight-Loss Plan

Oprah’s advert for Weight Watchers makes dieting sound so intense it’s made people cry. What lies behind the new partnership?

Forget portion control: Weight loss is a powerful emotional journey of self-reinvention and slow-motion clips of Oprah Winfrey, billionaire media mogul and new Weight Watchers spokesperson, gasping for breath on an elliptical.

That’s the message packed into a minute-long video unveiling Winfrey as the face of the diet franchise which, predictably, has moved Twitter users to tears.

“Inside every overweight woman is a woman she knows she can be,” Oprah tells viewers, sitting in a wicker chair against a vaguely woodsy backdrop. “Many times you look in the mirror and you don’t even recognize your own self because you get lost, buried in the weight that you carry,” she says—a jumble of mixed metaphors and clichés that somehow sound like a magical incantation when delivered by Oprah.

She concludes, somewhat unintelligibly, with a reference to her longtime battle with her weight: “Nothing you’ve ever been through is wasted. So every time I tried and failed, every time I tried again, and every time I tried again, has brought me to this powerful moment to say, ‘If not now, when?’”

The video debuted on Christmas Eve and was tweeted by Oprah on Tuesday morning ahead of the New Year—a last-minute pitch to sign up for the weight-loss regime. “Come join me,” she wrote. “Let’s do this together.”

Oprah herself invested $43.2 million in the 53-year-old company back in October, around the time she appeared on Ellen DeGeneres’s chat show and said she’d lost 15 pounds since she started Weight Watchers in August.

But she didn’t divulge her recent purchase: a 10 percent stake in the company. (Wall Street followed suit, betting on the “Oprah Effect” and boosting Weight Watchers’ stock, which jumped again following the release of the video.)

Oprah did gush to DeGeneres about Weight Watchers’ revamping its program “to bring a healthier, more holistic approach for everybody.”

Indeed, the Weight Watchers website looks more like Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop than a traditional diet site, tempting visitors to “unlock your inner awesome”—more nonsense words—by signing up for the new Beyond the Scale program, “our most personalized program ever.”

Weight Watchers has been moving toward the whole foods trend as far back as 2012, when they revealed Jessica Simpson as brand ambassador.

“I’m just Jessica, trying to eat real food in the real world and I really just want to be healthy for my daughter,” she said in her debut commercial with the company.

Meanwhile Jennifer Hudson, a celebrity spokesperson for the company from 2010 to 2014, belted out “believe in yourself!” in promotional videos that edged closer to the holistic self-help image Weight Watchers has now fully embraced with Oprah.

That Oprah has invested a chunk of her fortune makes their new partnership look even more convincing. “Because it works” has always been the company’s slogan, but unlike previous Weight Watchers spokespeople, Oprah has—very literally—put her money where her mouth is.