An Antidote to Today's Stresses, Massage Envy Launches First Campaign

Five Questions for CMO Susan Boresow

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Massage Envy, a sort of fast-feeder of massage, seems to be hitting consumers' pressure points with its concept. It opened its first location in 2002. Since then the Scottsdale, Ariz.-based purveyor of convenient and affordable spa services has grown to 663 units in 43 states. It counts more than 950,000 members, who pay $49 to $59 per month, performs a million services each month and reported 2009 annual revenue of nearly $30 million, with more expansion anticipated.

Susan Boresow
Susan Boresow

Last week the company launched a $10 million national ad campaign, its first, created by the Lavidge Co., called “For ME,” which features different types of Massage Envy customers -- working mom, home renovator, teacher, nurse, businessman, woodworker, mountain biker. And it’s based on extensive consumer research the company conducted that identified reasons for why individuals seek out massage. Though the annual buy for the non-holiday-specific campaign has not been finalized nationally, a Mother’s Day “For ME” campaign will run on NBC’s "Today" show and in Family Circle, More, Shape, Women’s Day, Reader’s Digest, Men’s Fitness and Outside magazines. Media buys at the local level include TV, radio, print, outdoor and direct mail. A social-media component will launch in the third quarter.

Helming marketing efforts is Chief Marketing Officer Susan Boresow, who joined the company last October from Pump It Up Management, parent company of Pump It Up and Bounce U brands, chains of indoor playgrounds for kids, where she served as VP-marketing. Her background also includes marketing-management stints at Cold Stone Creamery, Godfather’s Pizza and Mr. Goodcent’s Pasta and Subs, as well as McDonald’s Corp. as senior regional marketing manager. She claims Massage Envy’s core affordability message is resonating particularly well in these trying financial times.

She took some time to talk to Ad Age about the new campaign and share her thoughts on Massage Envy’s relevance in a stress-filled, recession-addled America.

Ad Age: Tell us about the campaign.

Ms. Boresow: The overall objective was to build awareness, to drive customers into Massage Envy, and we really went through some extensive research 10 months ago. We wanted to remind consumers that massage is more than just an occasional indulgence, it’s an integral part of their everyday wellness routine. We wanted to get some deeper insights into their specific drivers. We found that women stated that stress reduction was the primary reason for use. Men said it was pain or events. Some of the perceptions are that massage is a lot of pampering. It can be that, but truly it can reduce stress. We wanted to make sure we were able to communicate that so we did it with testimonials.

Ad Age: What’s different about it? Is this a departure from previous messaging?

Ms. Boresow: It’s really our first national marketing campaign that we’ve launched. We’re really trying to educate consumers out there about the benefits of massage. It’s driving more our focus of the benefits of massage and facials from our consumers, our testimonial point of view.

Ad Age: Why do you think your message resonates so well right now?

Ms. Boresow: The essence of our core business is three-fold: One is the professional angle. The second is affordability. And the other is convenience. It’s something we feel we’ve been communicating for a long time, it’s who we are -- the affordability aspect.

Ad Age: What from your past experiences are you bringing to bear in this role?

Ms. Boresow: I’ve done marketing for over 25 years. I’ve been in food, I’ve been in haircuts for men and boys and most recently I’ve been [with Pump It Up]. I have been an avid massage and facial user my entire life. It’s part of my wellness routine. I just think [the knowledge I bring is] how we can evolve the brand and work with the franchisees on a local level -- really working with the franchisees to make sure their marketing plans are as effective as possible.

Ad Age: What's your favorite Massage Envy service?

Ms. Boresow: While I haven’t had a treatment I didn’t love, my favorite is the deep tissue massage. A major benefit of Massage Envy is the opportunity to customize and I always add the lavender aromatherapy. I highly recommend the combination.

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