Updated: Anytime Fitness latest campaign highlights importance of the human

Latest marketing campaign to get people back into their local gym takes its lead from consumer behavioural change and human spirit

Celebrating the human and acknowledging changed consumer behaviour been put front and centre in the latest campaign for Anytime Fitness encouraging Australian consumers to get back into the gym.

The Anytime Fitness ‘24/7 Human’ campaign launches in NSW this weekend and shines the visual spotlight on members, employees and club owners. It’s been produced in partnership with MercerBell and incorporates out-of-home advertising, digital, social, PR and more localised media buys.

The campaign is national but rolling out in line with the reopening of gyms in each state. Gyms in NSW have been given the greenlight to open from tomorrow, 13 June 2020, while gyms in Victoria will reopen the following week.

CMO of Anytime Fitness parent company, Collective Wellness Group, Emily Thompson, said the campaign is very much about celebrating the diversity, expertise and community spirit the fitness brand strives to embody. It’s also a big call for consumers to get back into the gym and help the industry recover from the significant impact of COVID-19 pandemic closures over the last three months.

“Our industry has been profoundly impacted by COVID-19 but there’s a light at the end of the tunnel,” Thompson said. “Our franchisees and club teams can’t wait to welcome members new and old into their gyms, and with this campaign MercerBell has really captured that sentiment.”

Thompson said the campaign was conceived and turned around with phenomenal speed in less than a week. But the thinking behind it has been growing for much longer than that. 

"We had the opportunity as we reopen the doors and run awareness campaigns around how clean we are – that was the safety and easy option, which would have instilled confidence in members to come back. But for us it’s more than that – it’s taking feedback and insights we were seeing and the conversations we were having with members," she told CMO

For example, while memberships were put on freeze as lockdown came in, certain members wanted to keep paying to ensure their local club was there when it had the opp to reopen, and that the staff were still there.

"It drove home the significant role that gyms can play in people’s lives," Thompson continued. There's also the growing awareness and need to focus on mental health. Anytime Fitness has a partnership with RU OK, and through this had become aware of the shift in people wanting to be more open to talk about mental health as an outcome of the COVID-19 crisis.

This brought the marketing team back to the human priorities. "We could sit and focus on hygiene or the convenience of a 24-hour gym, or we could talk about what’s really important, which is the human connection side," Thompson said. 

Complementing all of this was research undertaken late last year looking at how Anytime Fitness was perceived and what it want to be in the future.

"The perception around 24/7 gyms is they’re kind of faceless, it’s a room full of equipment and we’re not staffed all the time. We will always have that 24/7 model but there is more to it than that," Thompson explained. "We have 3000 employees across our gyms, and they need to be front and centre for what we do moving forward. We wanted a campaign that celebrated that as well as the diversity of our members. Again, there is a perception we are a young, male dominated gym of people lifting weight. The reality is members go from 16 years old to 75 years old. It’s a broad member base that needed to that to shine through.

"Another of the insights out of this [crisis] is health is more important than ever and it’s more than just fitness. We are trying to encompass that. We’re also trying to remove that intimidation factor for people in coming to our gyms."

MercerBell executive creative director, Vaughan Townsend, said the ambition was a campaign that tapped into the Anytime Fitness brand spirit. Elements have also been developed as a form of toolkit enabling Anytime Fitness’ 500 franchisees the ability to tailor messaging and communications to suit their hyperlocal needs.

“Anytime Fitness is a place members go to work out, hang out and be with like-minded people. The new campaign captures this feeling of a 24/7 community and will appeal to new audiences who are looking for something more from their gyms,” Townsend said.

The human spirit has very much come to the fore in the face of the COVID-19 crisis, with brands across every category striving to highlight, support and bring an empathetic approach to their marketing in response. From kindness and thank you messages for essential service workers to information communications led by CEOs and operational leaders, marketing campaigns during this time have commonly turned to real people to retain connection with consumers as the crisis progressed.

Now, as we tentatively step towards recovery, recognising how consumer behaviour has changed and shining a spotlight on the human factor is also expected to remain front and centre in brand messaging and campaigns.

MercerBell CEO, Julie Dormand, noted Anytime Fitness has historically positioned itself via the more rational messaging of being a 24/7 gym. But the transformation of consumer behaviour brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic made celebrating the human aspect of what gyms deliver key to the latest campaign.

“Normally with our work, we’d look at the behaviour we are trying to change. But what we have all been through during this time reflects a massive behaviour change focused on us, as humans,” she told CMO.

“As soon as we added in the human – even the word - and plugged this into the imagery, we could see the role gyms play in our lives. This is about people, and people behaving and engaging in spaces that are important to them.”

Dormand pointed out behavioural changes ushered in by COVID-19 will be hugely impactful on the way brands need to engage as we come out of the crisis.

“People talk about reverse culture setback and what it is to go back to the new world. We know it won’t be the same – people know the world they live in has changed and we have different attitudes around how we work and engage. It’s significantly shifted,” she said.  

Thompson argued there wasn’t a category of client across the agency’s portfolio, from Qantas to AMEX, that hasn’t been impacted.

“Those who saw a more positive impact from the crisis still experienced that change in behaviour,” she added. “This is a very rich space, and that behaviour change is coming into every brief we do.”

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, follow our regular updates via CMO Australia's Linkedin company page, or join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia.                

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