PureGym's CMO on why the fitness firm's latest campaign champions people, not six-packs

Low-cost fitness chain PureGym has overhauled its marketing strategy to move on perceptions that it is simply a budget brand, and instead show the impact its services have on consumers' day-to-day lives.

The company, which has over one million members in 200 locations, has unveiled a fresh campaign which is centered around the ethos that ‘People Are Incredible’.

As it looks towards the next stage of growth, PureGym's chief marketing officer Stephen Rowe told The Drum that the brand is taking cues from the likes of Premiere Inn which has leveraged its marketing to move up the value chain and create a deeper connection with consumers.

Until now, Pure Gym has relied on competitive pricing, a no annual contract policy and 24-hour access to attract sign ups; but now is it looking to get customers to emotionally invest in the brand too.

As such, its latest campaign comprises several films juxtaposing ordinary equipment such as the humble exercise bike against a backdrop of gritty 'This Girl Can'-style footage showing people working out. This footage is shown alongside other films which reveal what effect going to gym has on members' day-to-day pursuits.

The campaign will run over the busy post-Christmas and New Year period, with fresh takes on the proposition to come in 2018.

While it would be easy to plump for tired tropes about having eaten too many pigs in blankets over the festive period, or imagery focused on physical results, the brand wants to instead show the role it can play in people's everyday lives.

“These aren’t stories about the ‘before and after’ reveal or people with six packs,” PureGym’s chief marketing officer Stephen Rowe told The Drum, “these are ordinary everyday people that really value healthy lifestyles and the role Pure Gym can play in that.

The firm's recently appointed creative agency BJL worked closely with PureGym’s in-house team to develop a number of iterations that will run across TV, digital and social, CRM, in-club and a range of other recruitment communications.

Accompanying the campaign is a series of social videos which tell the real-life stories of some of PureGym's members, including Abbie who took up running as a way to cope with grief and firefighter Lenny.

PureGym, which was recently acquired by US investor Leonard Green & Partners, has been one of the driving forces behind the budget gym boom since its launch eight years ago.

Rowe said that social trends focused around fitness, nutrition and the positive impact exercise has on wellbeing have also influenced the brand's latest turnaround. "People are more conscious of exercise," said Rowe, "particularly in younger audiences."

According to non-profit health body UK Active, close to 15% of UK consumers now stump up for a gym membership.

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