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Fitness, Wellness

Equinox's January 1st Anti-Campaign: When Pretentiousness is Part of The Brand

Jlavraie25 contributor

Equinox is not your average gym and does not cater to the "average" consumer.

Exclusive health club Equinox has never been afraid of controversy. With its latest national campaign, "We don't speak January," the luxury brand successfully sent a clear message: the membership and what comes with it is not for everybody. The pretentiousness of the brand and the superiority complex behind it are real. The executives behind it and most of the members are aware and proud of it. The campaign, which features a no-nonsense communication and graphic style, uses messages such as "January promises and doesn't deliver, we don't speak January" and "January will not text you back next month; we don't speak January." It seeks to let the public know that its wellness brand is only for those who they consider “serious” about their health and don't attach themselves to arbitrary dates to focus on their goals. To drive its point further, the club went as far as to ban people from registering for membership on New Year's Day; a move that many consider risky, others distasteful, but that indeed has given the club lots of buzz during a critical time of the year for their industry.

As one of the most snobbish ad campaigns we've experienced recently, it was immediately faced with massive backlash online, its social media accounts inundated by people disagreeing with their approach and delivery. Content creators also reacted to the campaign by posting their thoughts, heavily criticizing the elitist message the brand is trying to send and pointing out the exclusionary tone, which contrasts with the global push for inclusivity we've seen in recent years. While many asked for the brand to "do better," others focused on calling out the obvious: a place where the lowest membership costs $200 a month is, in the most shameless way, indeed elitist, pretentious, and not trying to be anything different. The campaign and the remarks brand executives made about it are only a perfectly timed, not-so-subtle reminder to the public and their competitors.

Equinox is not your average gym and does not cater to the "average" consumer. This is the message that Will Mayer, vice president and executive creative director of the brand, wants to make clear. He spoke to The Drum, an online marketing publication, about the Equinox manifesto: "Equinox is not buying in. Equinox exemplifies the belief that life is forged at the extremes, and because we are for people who constantly push themselves to those extremes, we can't in good conscience support the 'new year, new me' movement that happens every January." The unapologetic approach makes clear that the divisiveness of their move is a calculated risk. The negative response caused by the ads and registration ban is expected and almost desired. And when your target market is a particular type A individual, who most likely takes pride in being part of an exclusionary crowd, it's safe to say that the campaign was a success.

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