Why The New Equinox Ad Campaign Makes For Great Branding

Tuesday 12th, January 2016

A couple of days before 2015 drew to a close, I got a forwarded message from a friend on WhatsApp.

‘Only two days left…. before we begin to see millions of people joining gyms for a week”!

Guilty as charged. I’ve lost count of the number of years that I’ve taken a New Year resolution to join a fitness programme and then promptly forgotten all about it after a few weeks.

What is it that prompts millions of sensible people all over the world to do the same thing year after year? I thought I was in a small minority but the problem seems to be a universal one.

I came across this thread on Quora where the issue is discussed at some length. To quote one of the replies, it seems there is a 12% spike in new memberships at gyms in the US at the beginning of January every year. Thereafter, there is clear evidence that 80% of the new members drop out by February.

So, when I came across this brilliant new ad campaign from Equinox Gyms I was blown away. The campaign has a single-minded proposition (“Commit To Something”) that resonates beautifully with the the goals of a good fitness programme.

What I found different – and therefore, compelling – about the campaign was its appeal to the individual self. Time and again, research has shown that the single biggest factor preventing people from continuing with their fitness programme is the perceived lack of time.

In that sense, “Commit To Something” has a very powerful, emotive appeal. Suddenly, it takes the conversation away from all the usual reasons such as looking good or losing weight. It taps into something very basic, very raw.

There is something within all of us that pushes some of us to go that extra mile, to put in that extra effort, to work longer and harder. And you simply cannot get the most out of your fitness programme, if you merely think it is cool or hip to sign up for one.

Of course, it helps that the visual imagery shot for the campaign by photographer Steven Klein is stunning. The visuals are outright provocative in some cases and that helps to hammer the core message home.

I was curious to see what kind of advertising other fitness centres have attempted. A quick Google search reveals that not much work seems to be available in this category. However, it is interesting to note that Gold Gym seems to have developed a similar theme a few years ago. However, the core message in that campaign was around strength as expressed in different ways.

This is an industry that has a lot at stake. The US has an estimated 45 million people with gym memberships making it a US $20 billion dollar industry. The UK has an estimated 4.5 million audience. (Numbers are not available for other parts of the world).

Certainly, the aim of fitness centres is to expand the audience, to tell most of us laggards that we can achieve our goals too.


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