Planet Fitness: A gym branded for the mediocre
Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share
15 August 2011
Planet Fitness sports a misguided self identification
I’ll be the first to admit it. I hate to work out. In fact, the very idea of it conjures up my own version of the climatic scene of the Exorcist. This is probably why, when my belly took on a liking to portliness, I regretfully understood that it was now or never that I had to hit the dreaded StairMaster. I found a gym online — the closest one to home, in fact — as I was resolved to get the workout over with and get on with life.
Enter Planet Fitness. It’s just a two-mile drive from my house. What’s more, at only ten dollars a month (which is what sold me), it’s definitely not a struggle on the wallet. That’s what’s good. And they certainly remind you that it is good too.
“It’s the best deal on the planet” reads one of their new print ads.
“Okay, I get the mindset here — the everyday gym goer doesn’t drink Creatine.”
But at the end of the day, is it?
By competing in price, the Planet Fitness brand suggests that it is a good thing to not be the “winner.” A foolish move on its part. Look all around at the gaudy purple and yellow gym (can you say 80‘s flashback) and you’ll find slogans that speak for the, as I’ve now coined, “beta male” or the “hobbit-bodied female.”
For example: “It’s gym class without the annoying guy with the whistle.”
So, is the suggestion here that everyone who comes to Planet Fitness is lazy and can’t meet the demands of a tough workout?
Or, take a snapshot from Mullen’s radio campaign for the gym:
“If you drink Creatine from a gallon jug, this is not your gym.”
Okay, I get the mindset here — the everyday gym goer doesn’t drink Creatine. But this is simply a cute and clever idea for a company that needs rebranding. By taking on a witty brand, and positioning it as the gym for the underdog, Planet Fitness has gone to the market with a flaw. Why? Because it has forgotten that the everyday person who has made the decision to work out does not want to feel like an underdog.
Conversely, what they do want to feel is that they are doing something significant and that they are a winner for changing their lifestyle. And, that at least for a half an hour a day, they are a champion. They are just as good as the best of the best, perhaps even like the folks that enjoy a tough workout with that “annoying guy with the whistle.” If they feel like the mediocre majority, then guess what, they’ll give up.
Because at the end of the day who wants to be mediocre?
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