We’ve all seen them. Whether it’s on Facebook, in your letterbox, or on a billboard — gym ads are everywhere. They all seem to look the same: towering headline next to a photo of very, very happy people working out.
Smiling … really?
Who smiles during a 45-minute HIIT class where you have to toss water bags, jump on boxes, and swing kettlebells up, down and around? Not your humble author, that’s for sure. But I digress.
Why gym ads generally suck.
Many gym ads you see posted around are carbon copies of each other. Adorned with well-worn headlines and expressions like these to reach out to the masses:
- Get Ready To Get Fit!
- Come Train With Us!
- Come Train With The Team!
- Find Your Fit!
- New Year, New You
- Start Strong, Finish Stronger!
- Shape Your Body Today!
- Shape Up Your Body.
- Train To Gain’
And the go-to classic after the creative juices are tapped dry…
‘7-Day Free Trial’
Now, after reading those headlines, you don’t have to rack your brain to figure out why many, many gyms get a one-way ticket to the small business grave within one or two years of opening.
Not all gym ads suffer a similar fate.
There are a handful of fitness centres and gym ‘boxes’ that have etched out a loyal following.
Within this handful are a select few that have a die-hard customer base, where it goes beyond exercise.
It’s a lifestyle. And it’s 24/7. (See CrossFit, F45 and Barry’s Bootcamp, to name a few.)
So, how do you build the same buzz when you’re on a shoestring budget?
Blair, an old buddy of mine from my university days asked me that question. She’s in her final weeks of setting up her brand spanking new gym in South London.
While she doesn’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars, or even tens of thousands, to spend on large-scale campaigns, she does have some cash to run poster ads to create some brand buzz.
(Because she helped me pass my Statistics For Marketing Research exam back in the day, I was more than happy to repay the favour.)
As always, step one is to get the creative brief done.
It’s here we made the creative decision not to try and create some clever USP (unique selling proposition).
The 'me-too' trap.
There are 15+ gyms within her operating area, so another ‘me-too’ advert is risky business when competition is that cut-throat.
Instead, I opted to go for UEP, also known as a unique emotional proposition. This is where the copy attempts to elicit an emotional response from readers.
One that’s memorable. One that strikes a chord.
And after hours and hours of research, shooting the sh*t and asking ourselves “what makes people really get down to their local gym?”, this is the campaign I created.
At the core of these ads is a spark of human recognition. Some insight, some thought that anyone who wants to, or is thinking about, losing weight will go through.
What’s more, if there’s one thing all fitness ads need is the Jekyll & Hyde effect. In other words, a before and after. Weight loss ads for the past two decades are built on the back of this is what you look like now, this is what you’ll look after.
Here, I employed the same strategy. This time with a twist.
If you achieve this, do this.
Rather simple, isn’t it? The ads with the greatest effect or built off simple ideas.
So, if you’re looking to shape up your gym ads, pull up a bench and let’s chat about what we can do for your advertising and marketing here.