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How To Sell Gym Membership With Sex?

June 27th, 2009 · 1 Comment ·


When competitions are getting stiffer, the fine line between creative marketing and overt sexuality is getting even thinner. In US, Equinox Fitness Club which is an upmarket fitness center has launched its “Happily Ever” campaign with a provocative advertisement campaign. May be it is true that sex sells in almost all industries, including fitness industry as I wrote in my earlier article – Does Sex Still Sell in Sports?

Here are some of the controversial print advertisement posters:


The above picture shows that in an art class, few nuns are sketching a well toned naked male model. The nuns look like they hardly contain themselves. They get to look at thing and imagine what it might be when it gets touch.


A good looking young man bends over backward by being a table and serving food to guests at a costume party.


A beautiful middle aged woman, in form-fitting dress, celebrates her birthday with few men of various ages surrounding her and trying hard to get her attention. I wonder whether she is able to blow out so many candles on such a huge cake. She probably can “blow” the men away with her power.


A group of women preparing themselves for plastic surgery with marking on their bodies. They look “artificial” with heavy makeup and stylized hair. However, the natural beauty captures the attention of an equally fit male model.

If the print ads are not good enough, check out the Equinox Fitness Club video ads which appears in cinema:

Mun’s Comment:

  • These advertisements can cut both ways. While some will be impressed, I will not blame others for associating this advertisement with soft porn. The advertisement agency has presented images which are playful. It goes beyond physical beauty of well toned body. It is also about fantasy – sensual situations with erotic and voyeuristic moment. The video is artistic. It creates an atmosphere which is mysterious and may get people go for a gym tour. But, I am not sure what will happen if a layman does not find what he or she has expected to see in the ads in the real gym.
  • Out of few print ads, the one with nun is the most controversial. It pushed a boundary to the next line. I am sure some are offended by the use of nuns in the photo. I hope that the image of gym will not be associated with “meat market” by layman.
  • The tag line of the campaign is “Happily Evers. What’s your after? It’s not fitness. It’s life”. I guess the ads with the older woman blowing candles matches what the tag line is saying. Older yet still hot? The ads has got viewer to visualize a provocative outcome.
  • I realize that different fitness clubs target different market. So, the campaigns are clearly reflective of its strategy for its target audience – well educated professionals age between 25 and 55 and with high household income, as claimed by the company. The typical gym is charging less than $100 or much lesser a month whereas Equinox rate is about $120 a month.
  • The advertisement went to the street in January 2008 when many people are having new year resolution to get on diet, be more fit or to lose weight. Getting noticed is critical. Like it or not, Equinox Fitness Club has achieved what it wanted for the marketing campaign. It gets people talking about the advertisement, mentioning about its name and getting them curious to visit the gyms. No publicity is bad publicity?

The club has opened a new chapter for marketing approach. The creative director of the ads has defended the ads by saying that they are shot through the lens of a female photographer. It probably not the last company doing this – presenting fit gorgeous models in as little clothing as possible to sell gym memberships. Despite the negative comments, take this advertisement just an advertisement. It may not indicative of the clientele or the atmosphere.


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Category: Fitness News

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1 response so far ↓
  • foongpc // Jun 27, 2009 at 9:55 PM

    I’m sure these controversial ads will bring all the publicity to the advertiser. Whether good or bad, the ads definitely work.

    But these kind of ads will be banned in Malaysia : )

    And of course, people will have a wrong impression about the gym or fitness centre, but I don’t think the advertiser is concerned with that as long as they can get people into the gym and sign up as members.

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