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CNN Today

Jenny Craig Store Owner Refuses to Run Monica Lewinsky Ads to Avoid 'Uncomfortable Questions'

Aired January 6, 2000 - 2:39 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Monica Lewinsky's latest endeavor is causing a stir.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, JENNY CRAIG AD)

MONICA LEWINSKY: I've lost 31 pounds on Jenny Craig. I'm not there yet, but I can still appreciate and be grateful and proud of my success so far. One of the most amazing things about...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALLEN: She slimmed down and now touts the virtues of Jenny Craig in television ads. But some Jenny franchises want no part of it, refusing to run the ads because of Lewinsky's role in the impeachment scandal.

David Lahey owns three Jenny Craig weight-loss centers in Wisconsin. He joins us from Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Thanks for being with us.

DAVID LAHEY, JENNY CRAIG STORE OWNER: You're welcome.

ALLEN: You're not running the ads. How did you make that decision?

LAHEY: Well, Natalie, I'm actually sitting here with my daughter Ally (ph) and she was the impetus behind the whole thing. When the Starr report broke with all the details of the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal -- scandal -- pardon me -- she came home, started asking me a lot of uncomfortable questions that you wouldn't normally expect a fourth grader to be asking. Certainly my wife and I were nowhere near thinking about having any of those kinds of discussions with our daughters.

And then the campaign -- the news about the campaign came out and I just didn't want to put parents in the same position I was in, having to sort of perpetuate that whole story and the reason why she's famous.

ALLEN: Were you surprised that Jenny Craig had chosen her to be a spokesperson?

LAHEY: Yes, I guess I was somewhat surprised that they would choose such a controversial person.

ALLEN: Had do you think that -- had you run the ads, do you think you would have gained business, lost business, or might they have had any effect at all on our business? Do you know?

LAHEY: You know, I don't really know, but I can tell you that, you know, this started out as a very small local story in Greenbay, and today I've had, well, tens -- 20, maybe 30 calls from people across the country that have heard about this story phoning and thanking me that -- she really is a lot bigger lightning rod than I thought. I'm glad that she's been successful on the program and I'm glad she's turning her life around, but because of the past that comes with her and the fact that I have three little girls is just -- it's just not something I just want to keep in the media. If I can do my part to keep it out, I'm going to.

ALLEN: Do you know if other franchises are also refusing to run these ads?

LAHEY: Absolutely. I know there's a number of franchises that aren't running them.

ALLEN: David Lahey, thank you for joining us.

LAHEY: Thank you.

ALLEN: Well, responding to store owners like Mr. Lahey, Jenny Craig Inc. issued the following statement from its company headquarters in La Jolla, California. It says: "It's quite common for franchises to use different ads or create their own. Fifteen percent of Jenny Craig franchises are privately owned."

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