New Year, New You – Fitness OOH Advertisements

It’s that time of year when a lot of people are ready to leave old habits behind that have been keeping them from achieving their goals and embrace new ones. We’ve all been exposed to the headlines, “New Year , New you,” or, “This Year is your Year,” at some point in our lives and it’s no mistake that these phrases are constantly re-used year after year by advertisers. These famous phrases resonate with consumers as the start of something new and better, a chance for people to rethink their life decisions, and make better ones for the new year – better known as, “New Year Resolutions”. As the clock strikes midnight on January 1st, people begin to welcome the new year by improving their lifestyle; whether it’s changing their diet, exercising more, saving money, or working on their personal growth. They believe that the New Year is the ideal time to do so. A survey by Finder found that 72.4 million adult Americans are willing to follow through on their New Year’s resolutions. The survey revealed that the top category for resolutions was health-related. According to a survey for America’s Top New Year’s Resolutions for 2020 by Ipsos, eating healthier and managing finances better were at the lead with 51%, followed by being more active and losing weight with 50% and 42% respectively. Health and fitness resolutions have been on the top of the list for years as the trend for being more health-conscious gains more popularity, giving advertisers a golden opportunity to integrate these goals in their campaigns.

OOH for New Year Resolutions

Making a New Year’s resolution list is quite simple, the real challenge is implementing them in a lasting manner. Out-of-Home (OOH) advertisements can act as a reminder to consumers to keep going with their eye-catching qualities and unskippable attributes. Brands that are promoting healthy lifestyles are able to target consumers that are beginning to lose motivation by giving them the boost they need. Fitness clubs and health brands are in high demand during this time of year. However, distinguishing themselves from the competitors is no easy task. Additionally, adopting a new healthy lifestyle requires the willpower to do so. Brands need to be creative and inspiring enough to reach their target audience on a personal level to ignite a change in their attitudes and behaviors. Advertising specialists found that emotional campaigns are more successful in the long run when considering consumer loyalty and market share. Pairing a creative and emotional campaign that speaks to their audience when they’re eager to listen – during the New Years Resolution period – can generate outstanding results. The following image is an example of how capitalizing on OOH advertising during New Years can accentuate a campaign’s message.

Sport England's campaign, "This Girl can" billboard of a girl playing soccer.

Sport England’s marketing campaign, “This Girl Can,” was a success due to the emotional impact it conveyed to women about believing in themselves. The campaign’s goal was to inspire women to challenge the social assumptions and judgements that make them feel inferior to participate in sports and exercise. The campaign showcased a variety of “real women”, instead of athletes and models, feeling empowered while partaking in a sportive activity. The campaign used relatable and witty messages such as, “I’m slow, but I’m lapping everyone on the couch”, “ I jiggle, therefore I am”, and, “ Sweating like a pig, but feeling like a Fox”, to trigger an “I don’t give a damn” attitude. The idea was to boost the confidence of everyday women that are striving to conquer their fitness goals. The campaign gained excessive attention on social media as women took photos of themselves to show that they too could be a “girl that can”.

New Years Eve in Times Square.

Performances in Times Square with a Planet Fitness billboards in Times Square.

Planet Fitness decided to rise above every other gym promoting memberships for fitness goals during the New Year and applied a strategy to become the official fitness center associated with the New Year in the minds of consumers. They were successful and did so by being a presenting sponsor of Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve in Times Square for five consecutive years. Times Square is known for its legendary celebration on New Year’s Eve, where millions of people gather on the bustling streets and millions more tune in to watch. Utilizing OOH advertising during this momentous event in Times Square is sure to grant you a great number of impressions. Planet Fitness is known for being the gym that won’t judge you – an expression used consistently in their advertisements. As a result, the message of the New Year was to welcome it as a “Judgment Free” Year, as everyone celebrated wearing their signature purple and yellow hats with a limited-time only offer granted to those who sent in a text message to become a member. To engage consumers further, Planet Fitness invited everyone to submit their Confetti Wishes for the New Year at their website or at the Wishing Wall set up in Times Square before-hand. As the clock struck midnight, the Confetti Wishes flew over Times Square creating a magical and exciting atmosphere. Planet Fitness became one of the top trending topics nationally during NYE on Twitter. Their content reached more than 16 million people and resulted in over 2.5 million video views. With fitness goals being one of the top resolutions, Times Square on New Years’ Eve is a goldmine where OOH advertisements can be displayed to their ultimate potential.

“Generation Active”

The fitness and health industry has blown up more than ever in recent years. This is due to the powerful influence millennials have had on the market, as they highly prioritize health and fitness. Findings from the 2019 Les Mills Global Consumer Fitness Survey found that millennials and Generation Z represent 80% of gym goers. The research also revealed that they are in need of online options for fitness programs, with 85% of all gym members claiming to work out at home as well. This could change the way fitness clubs operate as virtual workouts are in demand. Gyms now have the opportunity to deliver fitness experiences online. The study also found that Generation Z finds great value in the social interaction they get from the gym experience and would participate more in group workouts if better scheduling was offered. Another important factor for marketing gyms is the appeal of the gym itself as millennials and Generation Z have the desire to share their gym experience on social media – acting as influencers for the fitness club. According to Bubble Outdoor, 74% of the millennial market enjoys a subtle, inspiring, or creative advertising message, while 39% don’t respond well to ads that are blatantly trying to sell them something and lacking a strong engaging narrative. Millennials aren’t as interested in the advertised product as they are in the lifestyle category it fits under. A creative outdoor ad must meet their cultural trends in order to attract their attention. Understanding the target audience that’s driving the fitness industry helps companies advertise more efficiently. Below is an example of a brand that used creative OOH to target “Generation Active” with a message that adheres to their New Years Resolution.

Equinox's "Commit to Something" Campaign billboard of a woman after a double mastectomy.

Equinox's Campaign for "Commit to Something" showcasing a man un able to commit to one lover.

Equinox, an upscale full-service fitness club that offers a wide range of studio classes, training, personal training, food/juice bars, and more, launched its New Year Campaign in 2017 called, “Commit to Something,” with their tagline, “It’s not Fitness, It’s Life”. The campaign generated a lot of buzz due to the bold images that addressed issues that came across as unconventional to the public. What makes the advertisement unique is its unfamiliar approach to fitness when compared to the usual cliché image of instructors bench-pressing. The message of the campaign was to create an image that tells a personal story about important issues that are not typically used in advertisements, such as a woman’s decision to embrace a new perspective on beauty after a double mastectomy. The idea was to encourage viewers to take a deeper look into themselves and commit to who they are – even if it means going out of their comfort zone. Equinox’s vision of the campaign was to challenge viewers into changing their lives by being brave enough to commit to what they want, hence, committing to a healthier lifestyle and celebrating dedication.

The Bottom Line

With the new year around the corner, it’s expected that consumers will be bombarded with ads from all kinds of different mediums. Offers for limited-time services for gym memberships and wellness plans are used to stimulate a desire for consumers to begin their journey towards a healthy lifestyle. With millennials and Generation Z dominating the fitness market, advertisers are constantly searching for new, innovative ways to persuade consumers to switch to their gym. Gyms have to surpass the expected values of millennials by catering to their needs to look appealing enough to share on social media, provide alternative online experiences, arrange interactive social experiences, and advertise using values that align with those of “Generation Active”. OOH fitness ads, when creative and compelling enough, are able to captivate the consumer’s attention and exert influence. OOH also acts as a motivator for consumers to follow through with their New Year resolutions, enticing them with membership deals and inspiring words to keep their determination strong and ready for the challenge.

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