This Fitness Chain Is Adding Muscle to Its Marketing With New AOR Zimmerman

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Pure Barre plots expansion.
Pure Barre plots expansion. Credit: Pure Barre

Pure Barre is beefing up its previously gaunt marketing with the hire of its first agency-of-record. The 16-year-old fitness chain, which teaches a ballet barre-based workout, recently hired its first chief marketing officer and is planning a robust branding campaign as part of a business strategy to more than double its locations in the next four years.

"The company has successfully grown to date without any real brand identity, any national or paid social campaigns—just word of mouth," said Scott Breault, who joined Pure Barre as CMO two months ago from a marketing stint at fitness competitor Orangetheory. But now the brand is in "evolution" he said, noting that "the goal is to find a long-term brand identity."

Fort Lauderdale-based Zimmerman is tasked with building a strong branding presence across Pure Barre's more than 450 locations—the majority of which are franchises. The new push will include a branding identity, new website, digital and paid social marketing and user-generated content. TV may come later, but will not be in the immediate future, Breault said.

"This year, we want to reach the largest audience in the most cost-effective way and that's through a strong digital and paid social campaign," he said. He declined to say how much Pure Barre is spending but noted it is "significant." Last year, the brand, which maintains a dual headquarters in Denver, Colo., and Spartanburg, S.C., spent $307,000 on measured media in the U.S., according to Kantar Media.

Playing up user content could be a wise strategy, as fitness enthusiasts often share their experiences socially, according to a recent interview with Matt Powell, a sports industry analyst at market research firm NPD Group.

"There's an overarching trend of social fitness—doing fitness activities with a group and sharing that experience with your friends," said Powell.

Pure Barre has about 550,000 members for its U.S. and Canadian locations. It's planning to increase the number of studios to over 1,000 by 2021. To that end, the company hired new executive leadership earlier this year, tapping David Keil from the Honey Baked Ham Co. as chief executive as well as a new chief operations officer and chief development officer.

"Pure Barre is a brand with a cult following because of their commitment to transform people's lives," said Michael Goldberg, CEO of Zimmerman, in a statement. "Our job is to help them pave the way for new members, new franchise locations and new profit centers that accelerate that growth."

Of course, the fitness landscape, even for boutique brands, is increasingly competitive as fickle consumers ping-pong between the latest and greatest fads. Last month, SoulCycle, the spinning chain that has been gearing up for an IPO, debuted its first branding campaign, an effort with Laird & Partners.

Rick Caro, president of sports consultancy Management Vision, recently spoke with Ad Age about what brands need to do to differentiate in order to maintain growth momentum.

"What you need to do is reinvest in the brand and make sure everyone sees it the way you do," he said.

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