More Than a Workout

More Than a Workout

Preston Kelly's YMCA campaign suggests a higher calling.

To everything, there is a season. Only rarely do seasons shift as dramatically as they do between the holidays and January: Festive, frosted trees become a bleak winter landscape; Christmas morning yields to late nights calculating credit card bills; and holiday spreads move from tables to tummies. For many Minnesotans it’s a time to reboot, including stepping into a health club. But if the YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities and its longtime ad agency Preston Kelly have anything to say about it, people will “not just join a health club, but a health movement,” according to Chuck Kelly, the agency’s president.

The Strategy

Preston Kelly, the 45-employee Minneapolis-based agency that claimed $55 million in billings in 2010 (the same year it won Advertising Age’s Midwest Small Agency of the Year) is trying to differentiate the non-profit Y from its corporate competitors by focusing on community.

It’s a sharp turn from the individualism of last year’s notable campaign, in which a woman ate an entire stick of butter.

The Creative

The campaign employs a clever split-screen visual motif, in which the legs of one person carry another. Arms are substituted too, set to moving, motivational music that suggests the quest for a healthier lifestyle isn’t a solitary pursuit.

“We’re a team without a uniform,” begins the TV copy, which continues, “We’re a league without stars . . . who come together and strengthen our community as we strengthen ourselves. . . . we pull together as a community. Become part of something bigger than a health club. Join together at the Y.”

People have. Preston Kelly claims its campaigns over the last 10 years have driven many of the six figures worth of new Y memberships, representing hundreds of thousands of people. But Kelly believe the inspirational quality of the new direction sold the Y on change.

“The work is brilliant,” said Bette Fenton, the Y’s vice-president for marketing and communication, who described it as “a blend of brand positioning and member acquisition strategy.”

The Buy

Fenton wouldn’t reveal overall investment for the multi-media campaign, which will have 30- and 60-second TV spots, radio, print, billboards, online, and social media components. In fact, the only number that Fenton and Kelly would divulge was zero: The amount Preston Kelly charges for its Y work—reflecting a holiday spirit that knows no season.

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