Anytime Fitness says ‘F*ck Unfit’ but tones down outdoor ads to avoid ASB clash

Australia’s largest gym network, Anytime Fitness, is launching a brash campaign urging people to “F*ck Unfit” to shock people into improving their health, but has made a last minute call to tone down outdoor posters after the advertising watchdog ruled on the use of the “F” word by other advertisers.

Anytime Fitness has amended its new campaign for outdoor use

Anytime Fitness has amended its new campaign for outdoor use

The campaign is one of the biggest marketing drives in the history of Anytime Fitness and is allied to the launch of a fitness app aimed at giving people an always available alternative to gym instructors.

But the outdoor element of the campaign has undergone a last-minute alteration after the Advertising Standards Board last month ruled against SBS and ads for its Viceland channel promoting the TV show”F*ck, That’s Delicious“.


The banned SBS Viceland ad

Outdoor posters will be changed to read: “F*#? Unfit!”, while print, in-gym and social media will retain the original line.

“As a responsible brand, they have decided to adapt the outdoor media of the campaign,” a spokesperson for the brand said.

“The creative will be changed for outdoor signage to read: ‘F*#? Unfit!’ The reason they have made this amend is to be respectful of the ruling due to the concerns over children being able to see and read outdoor signage. For publications, in-club collateral and online/social channels, they will be maintaining the original creative route due to a more controlled audience.”

CEO Arthur McColl wants campaign to motivate Australians to do something about their health

CEO Arthur McColl: No apologies for being brash

Anytime Fitness Australia CEO Arthur McColl told Mumbrella he would not be apologising for the brash approach to marketing the brand, saying it was about supporting people to lead healthier lives at a time when obesity was a major problem.

“Yes it is controversial, but in the same way that you see controversial campaigns for not smoking, but underpinning that is some support,” McColl said.

“We are being controversial, we are being disruptive. We are not trying to be offensive, but the reality is Australia is probably now first or second on the obesity chart on the planet. I’m not saying we (Anytime Fitness) are doing it solely, but we do need to shock people into doing something.”

fitness-logoHe said the aim was to get people to do something about their fitness, even if it did not mean joining a gym.

“Get on your bike, walk to work. Just do anything,” he said. “If it sparks people to do something, then it has done some good.”

Supporting the campaign is the roll out of the app to members which extends the reach of the brand beyond the gym.

“We are giving every member access to Anytime Workouts. It’s about members not only using the product when they come to the gym, but it’s giving them education and advice of what they can do when they are not in the gym.”

McColl said the campaign was timed to hit the key dates of January, February and March, the months when people are most focused on fitness.

“Everyone joins a gym in January with the best intentions and by a certain point in the year they have all sort of dropped away. We want to try and deal with that. We want to try and get them in January and give them something that will help them get into their stride for the next year.”

“We don’t want to sell on price and drop prices in a race to the bottom, we want to go off and give some value back,” he said

“We know it’s an emotive campaign and we don’t want to offend. We don’t actually say the ‘F’ words, we imply it. But the intention is it gets more people to make a decision to do something.”

The creative work was carried out by the brand and strategy agency for Anytime Fitness, Bloom, with localisation done internally.

The app will be a key feature of keeping people motivated beyond the point where enthusiasm for fitness often drops off.

Anytime Fitness boasts 13% market share in Australia with about 2.5% of the total adult population members of the gym at any given time.

McColl said that the offer of the app was an intrinsic part of the marketing push, noting that if all its members around the world had to buy the app it would be worth $120m.

Clubs themselves will have the option of running with the “F*ck Unfit!” campaign or a secondary campaign “Enough is Enough”.



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