An intense “no pain, no gain” mentality has long pervaded fitness advertising, with brands in the space often focusing their ads on athletes engaging in extreme, sometimes painful-looking exercises. Now, New Zealand fitness brand Les Mills is challenging that overly harsh approach to fitness—and teaming up with “Ted Lasso” actor Brett Goldstein to help spread its message internationally.
Les Mills’ “Choose Happy” campaign, which launched today, satirizes the punitive mindset often associated with exercise. The two-minute-long ad plays into the grouchy, aggressive personality of Goldstein’s on-screen character, Roy Kent, and shows him engaging in a comically-hardcore fitness routine in a dark, desolate city—complete with the occasional, raging fire—and being haunted by his father’s words urging him to exercise even more intensely.
Toward the end of the ad, however, Goldstein is transported to the lush greenery of New Zealand, where he encounters a group fitness class serenely exercising, along with New Zealand actress Acushla-Tara Kupe. The actress tells him Les Mills has “workouts anyone will enjoy. Even you, you bloody weirdo.”
The spot, which will air internationally, was created by agency nice&frank and directed by Andreas Nilsson, who has previously produced commercials for brands such as Apple and Uber Eats, among others.
In a cheeky reference to Goldstein’s grouchy persona in “Ted Lasso,” Les Mills has also dubbed Goldstein the brand’s first “happiness ambassador.” In this role, Goldstein will help the fitness brand continue its efforts to sway Gen Z and Millennial gym goers to Les Mills’ group exercise classes and other fitness offerings. According to the brand’s recent survey of over 4,000 Gen Z consumers around the world, 64% don’t exercise regularly, and nearly half cited the desire to “feel better” as their top reason for wanting to work out more frequently. Additionally, 57% are continuing to struggle with negative impacts to their mental health following the pandemic.
The campaign also involves a search for two additional “happiness ambassadors” to help spearhead Les Mills’ efforts to court younger gym-goers. In late July, the brand will select two winners from a pool of applicants and invite them on a three-month-long trip to New Zealand.
In mocking the stereotypically extreme attitude around exercise that continues to characterize fitness advertising, Les Mills aims to urge “anyone who dreads working out” to instead “discover [exercise], in fact, can be a key to happiness,” Goldstein said in a press release.