24 Hour Fitness preps Olympic effort

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Health club chain 24 Hour Fitness kicked off an integrated campaign to coincide with its sponsorship of the Olympic Winter Games, which began February 12. The “We Are All Athletes” effort consists of a campaign Web site, online video, social media, e-mail and direct mail.

The initiative will be the latest iteration of 24 Hour Fitness' 2008 branding effort featuring Olympians. This year's edition, focused on six athletes who were sponsored by the gym chain, highlights their training at 24 Hour Fitness in online videos and Tweets.

“The message to consumers is that if we can help Olympic athletes achieve their goals, we can certainly help them compete to reach their everyday fitness goals,” said Tony Wells, CMO of 24 Hour Fitness.

The campaign creative features 24 Hour Fitness-sponsored athletes, including snowboarder Gretchen Bleiler, figure skater Rockne Brubaker, speed skater J.R. Celski and paralympic alpine skier Chris Devlin-Young. An online video series, called “J.R.,” documents how Celski recovered from a nearly career-ending accident last September in time to compete in this year's games. Celski worked out in 24 Hour Fitness as part of his rehab. The spots will run on TV, as well as on a mircosite and on YouTube.

This year's effort is more integrated than past versions, due to a lack of budget, said Wells. “Our marketing budget has been trimmed based on the current economic conditions so the idea of being more effective and efficient is more important than ever,” he said.

The chain will regularly update social media pages for each athlete with training stories and competition schedules. It will also distribute e-mails with similar content during the games. The direct mail pieces will also feature Olympic content.

The initiative's goal is both customer acquisition and retention. “The primary goal is to acquire new customers and tell them why we are the right fitness brand to help them reach their fitness goals,” said Wells. “But at the same time, we want to talk to our customers to let them know that even Olympic athletes choose 24 Hour Fitness.”

The campaign will run throughout the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, which end February 28.

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