Crunch Finds A New Metaphor For How Hard Life Can Be

Crunch Fitness is updating “Feel Good, Not Bad” with a new twist on pain: A woman gets her head stuck in a stair railing. It hopes the comedic spot reminds people that working out at Crunch does indeed feel good.

“The campaign has been working so well, and it’s because it is rooted in the insight that we’re all feeling a lot of stuff right now,” says Chad Waetzig, the company’s chief marketing officer. “There's a lot going on in the world that isn't great. And fitness is a good way to reconnect with yourself and friends.”

Rather than beat consumers about the biceps with a list of those “not great” things, from high interest rates to global conflict, “it’s a metaphor," he adds. "And it's fun. Humor is always a great way to break through the clutter, and it fits our brand.”



Fans see Crunch “as offbeat,” says Justin Bajan, creative director at Familiar Creatures, the Richmond, Virginia-based ad agency that created the ads. “We’ve had a lot of debate about how to articulate that, but we wanted to get at that quirkiness and tongue-in-cheek manner the gym has had since it launched in 1989.”

Waetzig says the ads are aimed at a group the team has nicknamed the “young, strong and social,” a core group of those between 18 and 34 who are most responsive. About 75% of its members are either millennials or Gen Z.

And the company is still seeing rapid changes in how consumers want to work out. “Strength training continues to be the most exciting, fastest-growing segment, especially with women. And that crosses over to our high-intensity interval training,” Waetzig says.

Crunch continues to pilot new experiences under the “Relax and Recover” umbrella, offering percussion therapy, hydro massage or dry sauna. “We continue to explore ways to help members go through a full fitness journey.”

The December launch of this campaign, which included a man getting his head stuck in a revolving door, has been the best performing in the company’s history, Waetzig tells Marketing Daily. Ads sparked 12% growth in membership year-over-year. And Crunch Plus, its virtual offering, has grown more than 50%.

And while Planet Fitness continues to be the most significant competitor, “we see ourselves as the top challenger brand.” And really, he adds, “Our competition isn’t just other gyms. It’s also the couch and Netflix.”

The campaign has also created a 13% overall lift in aided awareness and a 4% lift in brand consideration.

Media buys for the new work includes cable TV, YouTube, and connected television, with several 10-second versions running on Meta platforms.

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