Hydrow wants the world to see it as more than just another connected fitness machine. In a new "Feel the Hydrow High" campaign, it's pushing the distinctive euphoria that comes with the full-body workout.
"There's this connected feeling that comes from moving in sync with someone else when you're physically rowing in the same boat and with the same team," says Gretchen Saegh-Fleming, Hydrow's chief commercial officer. So rather than just show another pricey fitness machine in someone's living room, the company wanted to convey the power of that feeling.
"We've done a lot to recreate that experience digitally," she tells D2C FYI. "And we know people feel that same sense of connectedness with our athletes."
Saegh-Fleming says the campaign grew out of the in-depth research she launched after joining Hydrow about a year ago. (She had been CMO at L’Oréal U.S.)
“What we heard, over and over, is that people feel much better after they get off the machine," she says. "And I may just be a data point of one, but I can tell you the days when I get up and do my Hydrow, I feel sharper, stronger and happier. My kids would probably tell you I'm more fun on those days, too."
Ads aim to capture that edge. "It feels like you have the energy of a start-up with the strength of a Fortune 500," reads a version running in business publications. "It feels like your mind and body just did a backflip after a touchdown,” says a version running in sports pages.
The campaign, created by Mojo Supermarket, includes print, digital and out-of-home, as well as celebrities sharing their Hydrow workouts on social. TV is scheduled to break next month.
Saegh-Fleming says Hydrow's sweet spot is people 35 and older, attracted to the intensity of the workout. Hydrow claims it works out 86% of all muscles, with 30% strength and 70% aerobic effort. "They also like the efficiency of spending 20 minutes on a Hydrow versus 45 to 60 on another machine," she adds.
Like its competitors, a list that includes Peloton, NordicTrack, Tonal and Lululemon's Mirror, Hydrow experienced blistering growth last year. Sales gained 500% compared to 2019. And even in the previous six months, as many people have ventured back to the gym, sales rose 300%.
Saegh-Fleming tells D2C FYI that she expects the brand to keep growing. For one thing, some industry sources project that 65% of people who formerly used gyms aren't planning to return. But even for those who do, "home workouts are easier and more convenient for consumers," she says. "Just as people are returning to work on a hybrid model, we think they may do the same with fitness, balancing gym and home workouts. Connected fitness just offers such a variety of workouts that it's something people have come to love."
Part of the challenge is getting past rowing's snooty image. "Rowing is one of the best-kept secrets in fitness," Saegh-Fleming says. "Nine out of 10 of our members either weren't familiar with rowing or had never owned a rowing machine before."
She says that’s one of the reasons the company is so proud of working with comedian Kevin Hart as its creative director. "He's 5'4", not 6'5". And he's not someone who's grown up rowing on the Charles River."
Besides Hart, Hydrow recently announced new celebrity investors, including musicians Lizzo and Justin Timberlake, and football stars Aaron Rodgers and Travis Kelce.
Hydrow's competitors are also ramping up the athlete connections. Tonal recently added NBA legend LeBron James to its list of athlete investors, which already includes Serena Williams, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Drew Brees, Maria Sharapova, Michelle Wie and Sue Bird.