Marketing 50

Curves International

By Published on .

Curves International has gone from one women's fitness center in Harlingen, Texas, to thousands of outlets nationwide, purely on the strength of women spreading the word among friends.

"Our most powerful advertising will always be referrals from our clients," says Diane Heavin, 42, who co-founded the 30-minute express-fitness franchised operation with her husband, Gary, a former executive with another fitness club.

A self-described "aerobics queen," Ms. Heavin saw a need for a female-only fitness center. "Overweight women are intimidated by traditional gyms, but they desperately need to regain their strength and vitality through fitness," she says.

Overseeing all advertising, Ms. Heavin orchestrated the launch of Curves' first national TV campaign this year, featuring women who were size 12 to 14. Publicis Groupe's Publicis, Dallas, handles. The goal was to log 120,000 calls to Curves' toll-free number within the first year, but the response was double that in the first nine months, she says.

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