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Weight Watchers halts ad campaign with Fergie dissing paparazzi

September 2, 1997

NEW YORK (AP) _ Weight Watchers is halting a new ad campaign in which the Duchess of York says losing weight is ``harder than outrunning the paparazzi.″

Tens of thousands of brochures with the line were mailed to homes last week before Princess Diana, the duchess’ former sister-in-law, was killed in a Paris car wreck while being pursued by paparazzi.

``It has a touch of irony that nobody could have predicted,″ said publicist Howard Rubenstein, whose agency set up the campaign. ``The duchess certainly is sensitive to the situation and it’s just unfortunate that the mailing went out when it did.″

It was too late to recall the brochures, and the line will appear this week in some magazine ads.

But the duchess, the former Sarah Ferguson, canceled a New York news conference that had been set for Wednesday along with 15 interviews. The duchess flew to London to attend the funeral of the princess.

On the cover of the brochure, the duchess sits cross-legged, smiling at the camera and talking about the difficulty of losing weight. ``It’s harder than outrunning the paparazzi,″ she says.

Most print advertising containing the paparazzi line was canceled after Diana’s death, but Glamour and Self had already gone to press and will appear with the ad this week, Rubenstein said.

A TV commercial scheduled to begin appearing Monday was pulled from networks, though it did not contain the paparazzi line. It did appear on some local stations over the weekend, Rubenstein said.

``We were able to catch 95 percent of what was being done,″ he said.

``Out of respect for the Princess of Wales and the royal family we’ve done our best to pull our new commercial set for Labor Day,″ said Weight Watchers International president Kent Kreh.

Rubenstein said the campaign would resume when appropriate.

``I spoke to the duchess, and she is grieving greatly and out of respect will not be doing anything for the moment,″ Rubenstein said.

It is not the first time paparazzi were skewered in a commercial by Fergie, who once was photographed topless while her American lover nibbled her toes.

In a commercial earlier this year for Ocean Spray cranberry juice, she poured a glass of ice water on a photographer lurking outside a window.

That commercial was well-received, said John Lawlor, manager of communications for Ocean Spray Cranberries Inc. of Lakeville, Mass. He said the idea originated with an ad agency, not the duchess.

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