Planet Fitness Taps Hill Holliday for Creative, Media and Strategy

Four Shops Competed in Final Round of Review, Including Incumbent Red Tettemer O'Connell & Partners

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The Planet Fitness team surprises Hill Holliday with the news.
The Planet Fitness team surprises Hill Holliday with the news. Credit: Courtesy of Hill Holliday
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Planet Fitness has hired Hill Holliday as agency-of-record for creative, strategy and traditional and digital media buying following a competitive review.

There were four agencies in the final round of the review, led by Rojek Consulting, including incumbent Red Tettemer O'Connell & Partners, the incumbent on creative and traditional media. Digital media was previously managed by Ansira, but those responsibilities have now been folded into Hill Holliday's remit. Hill Holliday's work will span across Planet Fitness' locations in the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

"We were very pleased with our incumbent Red Tettemer O'Connell & Partners," said Jessica Correa, senior VP-marketing for Planet Fitness. "They were a wonderful partner and we're really proud of the work we've done together."

She added that Red Tettemer O'Connell & Partners helped the company get to 1,200-plus outlets, but going forward, Planet Fitness needs an agency "to help us hyper-grow as quickly as possible."

The gym brand, which opened more than 209 clubs in 2015 and is on track for slightly more this year, issued the review for a new agency to help streamline Planet Fitness' marketing process so it can "get from creative to execution" in a fast, efficient manner, said Ms. Correa.

Planet Fitness ad called
Planet Fitness ad called Credit: Planet Fitness

Representatives from Red Tettemer O'Connell & Partners were not immediately available for comment.

Ms. Correa said Hill Holliday stood out from the competition from the first meeting by demonstrating its expertise in business strategy and growth. Throughout the 10-week process, she added that the Boston-based Interpublic Group shop collaborated with the Planet Fitness team on creative ideas rather than just presenting work.

Red Tettemer's work was well-received creatively, with humorous TV spots that poked fun at "gymtimidation." Ms. Correa said new creative from Hill Holliday will likely continue its Judgement Free Zone brand messaging. "What we want to do with Hill Holliday is build on our momentum and marketing success and reinforce that differentiated positioning to make sure people understand who we are and why we're different and open it up to a wider group of people," she added.

"Planet Fitness, as a brand and a business, has so much upside," said Karen Kaplan, CEO and chairman of Hill Holliday. "Their growth trajectory is insane, so we are really excited. It's like getting on a rocket ship."

While she declined to give specific details about what's to come for the brand, Ms. Kaplan said the work will be more inclusive than it was in the past. "We're going to help them transition from a challenger brand to a leader and when you're a leader, you can't just talk about what you're not – you have to clearly define what you are, and that's a big shift for a company," Ms. Kaplan added.

In addition to Hill Holliday, Planet Fitness works with RF Binder on PR and Edelman on cause marketing.

After Planet Fitness decided on Hill Holliday, the brand "created a bit of an elaborate ruse" to tell the agency it won the review, said Ms. Correa. "I believe in the power of starting a relationship out right and starting it how you want to continue it long-term," she said, which is why the agency surprised Hill Holliday in person. Ms. Correa sent an email to the team with a list of follow-up questions and said she'd be coming into the office to discuss them, but instead, she and some staffers showed up with a large cake and champagne to congratulate the shop.

Ms. Kaplan said this is the first time a client has surprised her with a piece a business. "It was the classiest move ever," she said.

Budget information for the account was not disclosed. In 2015, Planet Fitness spent $42.8 million on measured media, according to Kantar.