National health-club chain 24 Hour Fitness is launching a marketing push around its sponsorship of the U.S. Olympic team's participation in the Winter Olympics this weekend. The campaign includes TV ads debuting on Feb. 12 that feature short-track racer J.R. Celski and skier Julia Mancuso.
Other elements of the integrated campaign feature U.S. Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls for the 2010 Games: snowboarder Gretchen Bleiler, pairs skater Rockne Brubaker, Paralympic skier Chris Devlin-Young, and speedskater Tucker Fredricks.
The message of the campaign, comprising broadcast, direct marketing, interactive events and in-club executions, is that Olympic-level athletes are an inspiration for the rest of us to get in touch with our own inner athletes, even if it means taking a half hour to hit the treadmill.
One of the new 30-second spots features Celski reflecting on his accident on the ice at the United States Olympic Trials in Marquette, Mich. last Sept. 12. Online video elements track his rehabilitation and recovery. The spots will air on NBC in select markets, in 24 Hour Fitness' more than 400 clubs and online at www.24hourfitness.com/goteamusa.
In addition to appearing in the company's campaign, the roster of sponsored athletes is making promotional appearances at local clubs and developing signature workouts available in-club and online at www.24hourfitness.com and on the company's YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/24hourfitnessinc.
Tony Wells, CMO of the San Ramon, Calif.-based company, tells Marketing Daily that the spots will air during the broadcast of the Games, then live online after, with a possibility of running them during the Paralympics in March.
But Wells says the ads are the tip of the iceberg for the company, whose involvement with the Olympics is year-round and includes training facilities for U.S. Olympic athletes. The company, which has sponsored U.S. Olympic athletes since 2003 most recently backed the U.S. team in Beijing as well, and sponsored Carrie Walsh Jeremy Warner. "I think with the current economic situation we have approached this with an eye to being efficient and effective and, in some respects, spending less," he says. "But it's also deeper and more integrated."
The campaign began with radio in January with online social media, PR, events and point-of-sale elements leading up to the Games. The company has also had sponsorship arrangements with athletes and past Olympians like Magic Johnson, Lance Armstrong, Derek Jeter and Andre Agassi. "Our new strategy going forward is not about using athletes for athletes' sake but to tie into the Olympics and help communicate a message about how, if our club can train Olympic athletes, we can help the average American reach his or her fitness goals."
Wells says that 24-Hour Fitness outfits, designs, and provides technical expertise at U.S. Olympic training centers. "We also provide hundreds of memberships to Olympians when they are back home training with their regular coaches and teams to use day in and day out," he says.
The company is also Official Fitness Club of the New York Yankees, for which it has built a facility.