Fitness Marketing Can Be a Double Edged Sword

Marketing in the fitness world is different than any other sector of the business world. The need to be smart and funny takes precedence over almost anything else, thanks in large part to the fact that companies that deal with fitness are selling products that some people are going to shy away from. Everyone knows they need to work out more and live healthier, in the grand scheme of things, most people put off working out more and living healthier takes a back seat to eating that third piece of chocolate cake.

Coming up with a marketing approach can be a bit hit or big miss. The good news for these companies is that when they do come up with an approach that works, it pays off big time and firms are remembered for years after. Marketing campaigns that go awry are remembered for years after too, unfortunately.

The Best of the Best

Reebok has managed to find a way to cater to the fitness community in a way that makes its ad campaign attractive, memorable and looking quite tasty. Reebok has decided it wants to woo the Crossfit community by offering up a special serving of bacon.

This campaign works on a couple of levels because most people are never going to look at bacon as something that fits into their healthy lifestyle. People also usually don’t jump to meat products when they hear mention of Reebok. What people do think of when considering Reebok is buying athletic and fitness wear and with the offering of bacon, Reebok hopes people will think more kindly about them.

The company found that those on the PaleoDiet and also those who are big anti-carb aficionados use the CrossFit workout regimen. By offering up a bacon that is uncured, and contains no nitrates, preservatives, MSG or sweeteners, they made a genius marketing move that is attractive to fitness buffs.

Chip Wilson built Lululemon from the ground up and into a force in the fitness world in part by launching ad campaigns that stood out from the pack. The company focuses on apparel and accessories for yoga, which is a competitive market. Wilson knew he had to come up with a way to not only stand out from the crowd, but get people to come to his store and pay a little extra for higher quality.

Chip Wilson also knew the best way to go about getting people to take notice and take interest in his company was by making them laugh. Lululemon did this by launching a web video series called Sh*t Yogis Say.

The videos are obvious take offs on other popular series such as Sh*t My Dad Says and Sh*t Girls Say. The difference here of course is that the videos are geared towards selling the products that are displayed in a humorously negative light. One video has a Yogi preaching about how carrots are “nature’s candy”. The video was a bit of a risk because it poked fun at the people it was courting. The campaign paid off by getting the video more than 1 million hits in about a week.

The Worst of the Worst

Attempting to be edgy and stand out in a crowd can backfire at times. Wilson’s company has also launched some campaigns that were less happily received. None were quite as universally disliked though, as the campaign launched by upscale fitness franchise, Equinox.

Equinox had the idea of getting a fashion photographer together with fashion models and having them pose in rather provocative ways. The campaign’s title was “It’s not fitness. It’s life.” The photos were supposed to show off real-life models showing off skills they picked up at the gym, like flexibility but seemed to just show many people that Equinox was fine with a less than healthy body image. The models were (as runways models often are) rail thin. Several were also in poses that were less than positive, such as sprawled out on the floor, at the feet of a man.

The campaign got the company’s name out there, but also forced it to issue and apology, after its social media pages were filled with people who voiced their outrage.

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About Shawn Hartley

Creative technologist by day. Bowling instructor at night. VP at Corporate 3 Design in Omaha. Proud father and husband.