Behind Gut's plans to make Canada’s go-to gym chain a global name
Buzzy indie agency Gut is set to expand in Canada with new business wins, including with the country’s largest gym chain. Its Toronto MD explains how it won the account.
A still from a previous GoodLife Fitness campaign. The brand has appointed Gut Toronto as its AOR / GoodLife Fitness
Since Gut opened its Toronto office last June, it’s worked solely to service its leading client, coffeehouse Tim Hortons. But with its appointment by GoodLife Fitness, a market-leading Canadian gym chain, the agency is looking to expand further.
The indie agency is set to tease its new work for GoodLife over the next week, with a full campaign due to follow in coming months.
Nicole Pekerman, vice-president of marketing at GoodLife, said that the agency would act as ”a trusted partner to help us reimagine the brand” and praised its team’s ”passion for creativity and willingness to help us get out of our comfort zones has been contagious.”
The account is only the second agency-of-record relationship established by Gut in Toronto. It’s also begun to pick up new project-based business to relaunch K-Y Jelly and market Rubik’s Cube.
Why did GoodLife need a new agency?
Though GoodLife leads the gym category in its home market and is the fourth-largest brand of its type in the world, Gut Toronto managing director Ryan O’Hagan told The Drum was seen as too generic by consumers.
”One of the primary challenges they brought to us is that it is ’the’ gym. If you came across someone on the street in Canada who said 'I'm going to the gym,’ you’d assume they're going to a GoodLife.”
With 200 locations in Canada, that presumption wouldn’t be misplaced. But, he explained, ”that proposition didn’t really mean anything to Canadians. They’re caught in the messy middle.” As such, the brand is vulnerable to competitors either side of its price range.
He continues: ”We needed to find a way to elevate the brand and its proposition and show consumers why getting back to GoodLife makes sense.”
To do that, O’Hagan said Gut’s campaign will emphasize the role of everyday ’fitfluencers,’ turning the popular image of guys with ”perfectly sculpted abs, supplements on the side and 600,000 followers” on its head.
”You can be a fitfluencer to the people in your world and in your family, even just by going out and consistently going to the gym every day. You can inspire those around you and you don’t need a six-pack.”
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The approach, the agency hopes, will leverage GoodLife’s ubiquity into accessibility.
To service the account, O’Hagan said it’s planning on taking on further staff, albeit at a quiet pace. ”We’re focused on growing as slowly as we can. We’re trying to be really responsible about the projects that we take on, making sure there's runway for increased staffing and we can serve accounts as needed.”
Ensuring that its flagship Tim Horton's business is ”effectively staffed” is the main priority of the office, he added.
The account – the largest of the entire Gut network – has been the agency’s sole focus for the last 18 months. ”During the first year,” he said, ”we said we’re just going to focus on Tim’s and not even think about taking on any project-based or other AORs.”
Now the business is bedded in, it can begin to expand. ”We’re very clear to other clients that we’re not the in-house agency for Tim's and our ambitions are to have other AOR relationships. We want to make sure we have a healthy business, that we’ve got a diversified portfolio of clients.
”Pressing on in our relationships is a priority for us, but we’re also open to dating some clients as well.”