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Crunch Fitness Uses ‘Offbeat Humor,’ Catchy Ads To Win Over Gen Z

Crunch Fitness Uses ‘Offbeat Humor,’ Catchy Ads To Win Over Gen Z

ATN spoke with Crunch’s chief marketing officer about the deliberate strategy behind the fitness franchisor’s unconventional ad campaigns

A new marketing strategy by Crunch Fitness is making fitness enthusiasts erupt with laughter, which can actually burn calories — an effective way to jump-start a health and fitness regimen at the ‘No Judgments Gym.’

At the helm of the New York-based gym franchise’s marketing division is Chad Waetzig, who is ever-mindful of promoting health and fitness while also considering the woes of modern times.

“With the general worries many consumers have right now – with election season ramping up, uncertainty around interest rates, and armed conflicts continuing around the world – many people are feeling the weight of the world on their shoulders,” said Waetzig, chief marketing officer. “Yet we believe that everyone wants to feel good. Crunch is there to help you feel your best through fitness from the moment you step through our doors.”

Finding humorous ways to market fitness is no small feat, especially in an industry that can be intimidating to newcomers or those returning. NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” recently poked fun at just that — in a skit highlighting the daunting, mysterious vibes of Pilates studios and the trepidation it can evoke in new clients.

Waetzig and the Crunch marketing team aim to strike a balance between showcasing Crunch’s inclusive ethos and the benefits of a workout at one of its 450-plus gyms or on Crunch+, the fitness brand’s on-demand platform, while simultaneously garnering laughs.

“‘No Judgments’ is core to our culture and values,” Waetzig said. “It means we have room for everyone, regardless of shape, size, age, race, gender or fitness level. The engaging commercials use humor to highlight how members can ‘feel good’ and find that reprieve from life’s inevitable bad moments.”

Chad Waetzig (credit: Crunch Fitness)

Crunch’s ‘Feel Good, Not Bad’ campaign first launched in December, reminding fitness consumers that a workout at Crunch is way better than a snake bite or getting stuck in a revolving door. The fitness brand’s latest spot, which can be viewed here, offers a humorous take on “feeling stuck” and offers an antidote: a Crunch workout.

Although Crunch intends for its campaign ads to resonate and entertain fitness enthusiasts of all generations, there is a specific audience in mind for the brand’s marketing creations that target what Waetzig calls the “young, strong and social.” 

“Members of this group tend to be adults 18-34, where social media and connection with others are part of their cultural fabric,” he explained. “They see fitness as a source of mental and physical strength.”

Crunch’s latest ads are witty, social-media-ready and crafted to go viral. Perhaps the best example is the fitness franchisor’s hilarious ad for ‘Thoga.’ Aligned with April Fool’s Day, the prank promo advertises a yoga class on Crunch+ for thumbs overworked due to chronic scrolling and texting.

credit: Crunch Fitness

Using the ad to highlight Crunch+, which was reinvented from 2013’s Crunch Live launch and re-introduced in 2023, reminds fitness consumers of Crunch’s other convenient offerings.

“With Crunch+, we’ve cracked the code behind the hybrid workout trend – extending the Crunch experience beyond the four walls of our gyms while enabling Crunch-led workouts at home, on the road or as a tool to use in the gym itself,” Waetzig said. 

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Consumers can expect to see Crunch’s comedic and ‘Feel Good’ approach to fitness throughout the year, especially considering that 94% of Gen Z and millennials prefer brands with a funny vibe.

“We’ll continue to connect with existing and potential members through irreverent, offbeat humor,” Waetzig assured. “These traits align with our brand’s identity, and we believe they help us break through the clutter and drive consumer comprehension of our brand and brand experience.”

Now in its 35th year, the high-value, low-price (HVLP) fitness operator has much to celebrate as it continues to scale and keep consumers engaged, motivated and uplifted. Crunch expects to hit the 500-gym mark and reach three million members, soon according to Waetzig. The brand recently welcomed Chequan Lewis, a former Pizza Hut exec, as its president to drive franchise growth.

“Crunch is uniquely positioned for unprecedented growth,” Waetzig said. “We have been crushing it in terms of expansion.” 

He also pointed to Crunch’s embrace of technology, as seen with its Amazon One partnership, and its increasing focus on recovery, as key reasons the gym franchise will continue to grow.

“For many fitness enthusiasts, recovery will become a fundamental component of their fitness regimen,” Waetzig predicts. “We’re committing time and resources to developing an even more robust ‘Relax & Recovery’ program in clubs to meet this emerging need, and recovery will play a more significant part in our marketing plans as awareness and demand for it increase among consumers.”

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