UK-based health chain Virgin Active, part of the Virgin Group, has launched a multi-million pound media campaign designed to get people moving—and hopefully into its gyms.
As many brands are doing, the campaign was first launched via YouTube, accompanied by a buildup on Facebook and Twitter. On the first of the year, the company quietly released a video showing an underwear-clad man on a motorcycle riding through the desert, with cut-in scenes of people diving into a pool, mountain climbing or sprinting for the finish line in a race. It uses the tagline “Don’t just live, live happily ever active.”
The ad will also be shown in movie theaters across the U.K. starting January 10, the company said, and through March 14, other ads will follow in print, outdoor, radio and via digital.
At a designated twitter handle, the company has begun giving tips and issuing challenges to people on how to stay active. They're asking them to post the results to #happilyeveractive.
The first challenge, issued January 6, is a Vine showing two people giving each other high 5, 6, 7, and 8. “Can you beat this? Send us your proof and live #HappilyEverActive."
To give traffic a boost, Virgin Group's celebrity CEO Richard Branson has put his two cents in on twitter:
@richardbranson How will you stay in shape in 2014? Here’s my plan to live #happilyeveractive http://virg.in/hpy @virginactiveway
@richardbranson Getting in shape can help give you more energy, alertness & confidence too http://virg.in/hpy #happilyeveractive @virginactiveway
According to Virgin Active, the campaign, created by ad agency Karmarama, encourages people to “get more active, and as a result have a happier and more positive outlook on life.” The company claims that it is the U.K.'s only health and fitness operator investing significantly in a brand building campaign, in a sector where seasonal price promotions are the preferred strategy.
“We have a bold ambition and that’s to become the most-loved health club in the UK. Virgin Active operates in a sector that traditionally has communicated very rationally to its potential customers with a focus on price or promotion. We want to shake the market up, appealing to people’s hearts, not just their minds,” notes Brian Waring, chief marketing officer of Virgin Active UK, in a press release. Waring could not be directly reached for comment.
Virgin Active has 226 health clubs in the U.K., South Africa, Namibia, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Australia and Singapore, with 118 of those clubs in the U.K.
Responses so far to the campaign have been moderate. According to Topsy, the most active retweets of the hashtag #happilyeveractive thus far were seen on January 6th, with roughly 220 tweets at presstime. One person got into the spirit on twitter with the following tweet:
Tillingham Farst @tlg215 14m #HappilyEverActive chest & tricep training, 3 super healthy meals, a naughty biscuit, an apple, enough water - just need 8 hours sleep now
The YouTube video has garnered about 3,383 views thus far, though one of three commenters on YouTube was less than impressed with the ad: “Guy on the bike a bit of a porker. Can’t ride either.”
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Mary Lisbeth D'Amico is a freelance writer based in Jersey City who frequently covers digital marketing, social media, tech startups, and venture capital. She has contributed to a wide range of publications including The Wall Street Journal, Business Week, Red Herring, and Real Deals. Find her on Twitter at @mldamico.
March 19, 2014