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Planet Fitness Expands Judgement Free Mantra Beyond Gym

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Planet Fitness, which often pokes fun at "gymtimidation," is launching a new ad campaign to extend its Judgement Free Zone messaging so that people know they can escape all judgment in the world at the brand's gyms.

"The World Judges, We Don't – At Planet Fitness, Be Free" campaign will debut with a 60-second spot during Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve celebration on ABC, for which the brand is a title sponsor.

This marks the first work for Planet Fitness from Hill Holliday, which was named agency-of-record for creative, strategy and traditional and digital media this summer. The 60-second spot, which will run twice on New Year's Eve, shows a comical series of people being judged by other people, animals, babies or even a scale. The commercial was also cut up into ten 15-second vignettes of judgmental moments that end with the words: "The world judges, we don't. Be free."

After New Year's Eve, the spots will run throughout January on all major cable and network channels nationwide, said Jessica Correa, senior VP-marketing for Planet Fitness, who added that a Spanish-language version will air in Puerto Rico and a few local markets in Canada will show the commercial. Trilia, Hill Holliday's sibling shop, handled the media planning and buying for the campaign.

Planet Fitness
Planet Fitness  Credit: Planet Fitness

Not only is this the first creative work for Planet Fitness from Hill Holliday, it's the concept the agency used during the pitch for the business earlier this year, said Khari Streeter, senior VP-creative director at the shop. He said Hill Holliday positioned New Year's Eve during the pitch as Planet Fitness' "Super Bowl moment," since January is a critical time for the brand and one where it gets an exorbitant amount of business.

One of Planet Fitness' main objectives with the initiative is to move it from a challenger brand to a leader in the gym category, said Ms. Correa. Planet Fitness, which will turn 25 years old in August, also wants to make the brand more appealing to the 80% of the market who aren't really comfortable with the gym experience, she said.

In addition to TV, out-of-home, digital and social and some local radio and outdoor, the campaign is kicking off on New Year's Eve with a Planet Fitness branded stage, a Judgement Free marching band and an on-air event called the "Be Free Awards." The first recipients of the golden thumbs-up-shaped award, which celebrates people who live judgement free lifestyles, will be given to rapper-producer DJ Khaled and young actor Gaten Matarazzo, who plays Dustin on "Stranger Things."

Mr. Streeter said DJ Khaled is known for his positivity and words of wisdom, while Mr. Matarazzo is outspoken about his condition called cleidocranial dysplasia, which affects the development of bones and teeth, and the fact that he was judged for it when he was younger.

Planet Fitness may give out more golden trophies next year on New Year's Eve, but in the meantime, Mr. Streeter said Hill Holliday will work with the brand to give the Be Free Awards social media legs.

In 2015, Planet Fitness, which has 1,200 locations across the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, spent $42.8 million on measured media, according to Kantar.