NO WASHBOARD STOMACHS IN GYM AD: CRUNCH FITNESS CONTINUES QUIRKY DIRECTION TO BOOST BRAND'S ATTITUDE

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Crunch Fitness, the trendy health-club chain known for its quirky commercials featuring a man in a bunny suit, unveils another bizarre ad lineup for this fall.

Mad Dogs & Englishmen, New York, which took over the account from DDB Worldwide in February, will continue to brand the chain through personality, not pecs.

While traditional health-club marketing touts taut tummies and bulging biceps to drive memberships, Crunch has tried to distinguish itself from the fitness fray with offbeat humor and a message of self-acceptance.

"I think it's more important to say it's a gym with a different attitude," said Doug Levine, Crunch president-CEO.

Six spots are the centerpiece of a $2 million campaign breaking on cable TV in November for major markets including Atlanta, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco. The effort continues the club's "No judgements" theme.

In spartan settings far removed from the muscle and spandex universe, the commercials depict average Joes engaged in quotidian rituals. One ad captures a pudgy slacker type at a urinal, first looking down and then glancing slyly to each side. "Relax," the text flashes. "You're not the first guy to compare."

Another spot shows a business stiff who notices coffee on his clean white shirt. He picks up a bottle of correction fluid and spreads it over the stain. The copyline: "Creativity . . . often goes unnoticed."

'STRENGTH IS...'

The messages that accompany each scene make, at most, oblique references to fitness. "Strength . . . is maintaining eye contact," another ad says while the camera struggles, but fails, to remain on the face of a chatty young woman whose low-cut shirt exposes her deep decolletage.

The new campaign follows an outlandish, yet award-winning, three-year effort that featured a bunny-suited man who seemed to revel in his own mediocrity. In this round of advertising, the bunny makes only a single appearance as the backseat lover of a scantily clad vixen.

"Everybody is somebody's fantasy," the ad says.

Each commercial ends with a flash of the Crunch fist logo and consecutive taglines "No judgements," and "gym.juicebar.apparel."

"The spots are little thoughts to live by," said Mad Dogs Executive Creative Director Nick Cohen. "We wanted to take the idea of 'no judgements' -- anyone can come here, and develop it into 'Stop judging yourself.' That's kind of the Crunch philosophy."

The campaign addresses the young, educated, urban professional, according to Mr. Levine. Of the club's 145,000 members, 90% fall into this category, he added.

GROWTH FACTOR

The health club opened in 1991 as anaerobics studio in New York's East Village. Today, it has 18 branches in the U.S. and one in Tokyo, and a line of gymwear and videos.

By yearend, Crunch will open new clubs in Las Vegas and Orange County, Calif. In 2000, Mr. Levine plans to open additional gyms in Los Angeles, San Francisco and

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