Megan Thee Stallion + Planet Fitness = A Fitting Brand Story Breakdown
Plus 12 Stories You Can Share With Your Audience
Just two days before we ended 2023, I was scrolling through my Instagram feed when I came across this post from our favorite Hot Girl Coach, Megan Thee Stallion.
View this post on Instagram
As a Hottie (Megan’s name for her fans) and Brand Storytelling Coach, I was excited for a few reasons.
- It’s a New Year’s campaign for a gym that isn’t all about the deal they’re offering.
- It highlights reasons people might avoid gyms that have nothing to do with them being lazy or unhealthy.
- It almost feels like a response to Equinox’s New Year’s campaign from the beginning of 2023.
- My very first attempt at a brand story breakdown also involved a brand partnering with Megan Thee Stallion. (That partnership was for the Nike Training Club app.)
Planet Fitness’ “Big Fitness Energy” Campaign
At the end of 2022, Planet Fitness introduced a new campaign with the tagline “Find Your Big Fitness Energy”. At the time, their goal was to address the fact that 3 out of 5 Americans felt more tired post-Covid than ever. (Via Barkley US)
Armed with research showing fitness helps to increase your energy levels, they created a campaign around being the solution to your “LowE” with ads that parodied pharmaceutical ads.
Through the strategic use of innuendo, these ads show people suffering from “LowE” and then treating it by working out at Planet Fitness.
They even created fake home tests to help people figure out if they were suffering from “LowE”.
Now that we’ve discussed Planet Fitness’ current campaign, let’s focus on their partnership with thee Hot Girl Coach herself, Megan Thee Stallion.
The partnership debuted a few days before the end of 2023 with Megan appearing as “Mother Fitness”.
According to Jamie Medeiros, (Chief Brand Officer at Planet Fitness),
“Music plays a huge role in any fitness routine, so Planet Fitness is thrilled to be teaming up with Megan Thee Stallion to break down the barriers of fitness, help everyone focus on their fitness journeys, the ‘Judgement Free’ way, and channel their Big Fitness Energy™.
Megan Thee Stallion celebrates all the values of Planet Fitness through her dedication to physical and mental wellness, plus her powerful message of body positivity, which makes her an incredible partner for our brand.”
I love this statement from the CBO because my first thought after seeing Megan’s Instagram post was, “Oh, this partnership makes sense!”
Although Megan is best known for her music career, she’s also a passionate advocate for physical and mental health. If you’ve ever seen her perform, you know she has to be in extremely good shape—and I’m not just talking about how she looks.
Without her commitment to physical fitness, rapping while dancing and commanding a stage would be nearly impossible. Yet she gets up there every single time and maintains the same energy throughout her performances.
(In this ad for her partnership with the Nike Training Club app, she mentioned that her days are often filled with dance rehearsals, endurance training, and live performances.)
In addition to her commitment to physical fitness, she’s also committed to focusing on her mental health and encourages her fans to do the same.
If you’re on my email list, you may remember an email titled “Does your story have to be emotional?”.
In that email, I talked about Megan’s partnership with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the Jed Foundation, and the Ad Council for their “Seize the Awkward” campaign.
The goal of that campaign is to prepare teens and young adults to talk about mental health with their friends.
In the PSA featuring Megan, she talks about the importance of checking on your strong friends and directs people to her website “Bad Bitches Have Bad Days Too”. The website features a list of mental health resources for her fellow Hotties.
Now that you know all about the partnership, let’s see what we can learn from this brand’s story!
What Planet Fitness Sells
Planet Fitness’ mission is to enhance people’s lives by providing a high-quality, fitness experience in a welcoming, non-intimidating environment. (Via Planet Fitness)
They do this by offering gym memberships through over 2,400 fitness centers located in all 50 states, Washington DC, Puerto Rico, Canada, Panama, Mexico, and Australia.
(During my research, I learned they use a franchise business model. Over 90% of these centers are independently owned and operated.)
Planet Fitness’ Audience
As I read more about the brand and its campaign, I learned Planet Fitness doesn’t target fitness gurus, enthusiasts, trainers, or athletes.
(I’m sure those groups of people are also welcome in their centers, they just aren’t the primary target audience.)
According to Barkley US (the ad agency) behind the campaign,
“80% of the U.S. population doesn’t belong to a gym because they don’t feel like they belong in fitness.”
The day after I saw Megan’s post, I saw this post from @demetriusharmon.
View this post on Instagram
Although this post is completely unrelated to the brand and campaign, it’s the type of message I could see being used as insight into the type of person they want to reach.
The person who needs to hear Meech’s message is Planet Fitness’ primary target audience.
In his video, he congratulates the people heading to the gym in the new year because they set a resolution to work on their health.
He acknowledges the fact that some people need timed goals as well as the importance of trying things when you’re moved to do it.
He also encourages them to ignore anyone who questions why they’re waiting until the new year to change their lives.
It’s a great message because the point is that it doesn’t matter when you start as long as you start (or restart).
I recommitted myself to working out regularly in November right before a series of holidays and a stressful time at work.
Just as people often question why anyone would wait until the new year to make positive changes in their lives, other people might question why I chose to start when I knew it would be harder to stay committed to my goals.
The ideal target audience for this campaign is tired!
They’re tired of dealing with scammers, tough-love trainers, body-shaming coaches, and fitness content creators who seem to be training for…whatever hypothetical event they’re training for.
They’re tired of the yelling, shaming, and negativity coming from every direction.
They’re tired of people questioning their goals, their timing, and their commitment.
And they’re tired simply because life is exhausting.
They probably aren’t aiming to gain enough energy or strength to complete a marathon, perform in front of thousands of people every night, or survive a zombie apocalypse.
They just want to be able to have the energy to get through their everyday tasks and enjoy their hobbies, friends, and family.
They are the exact opposite of the audience Equinox was trying to reach with their “We Don’t Speak January” campaign.
— Equinox (@Equinox) January 1, 2023
The ideal target audience for this campaign is the person who
- knows fitness can boost their energy levels (and spirits),
- views working out as a task rather than an identity,
- wants to start a new habit (or get back on track),
- and wants to spend less time in the gym and more time living their life.
The ideal target audience for this partnership is the person who also
- finds inspiration or motivation in upbeat music when they work out,
- would be interested in one of Megan’s Hottie Bootcamps,
- and sees value in easy entry points to improving their physical fitness (like dance).
And the truth is people who are fitness gurus, enthusiasts, trainers, or athletes are just more likely to already have a fitness center and routine set before the new year.
How Planet Fitness Fits Into Their Lives
If you want people to start thinking about how your brand fits into their lives, you need to share stories to get them to feel something. For some brands, that feeling needs to lead them to a tangible benefit quicker than others.
Earlier I shared this statement from the ad agency’s case study about belonging,
“80% of the U.S. population doesn’t belong to a gym because they don’t feel like they belong in fitness.”
You may notice the campaign doesn’t seem to focus on that insight.
I think that’s because most people in their target audience aren’t looking for belonging in their gym. Fitness isn’t a lifestyle for most of those people.
It’s a simple solution to a complex problem.
If you watch the ads, you’ll notice that each person is working out and then getting back to their life. Their life outside the gym involves their community.
Planet Fitness’ goal isn’t to make people feel like they belong with this campaign.
Instead, it recognizes its role in its audience’s lives by providing options for people to decide how fitness fits in their lives.
According to Megan,
“Working out is such an important part of my routine, so this partnership with Planet Fitness genuinely embodies my personal values. We want to encourage everyone to prioritize their physical and mental health heading into the New Year, so they can reach new heights in 2024 and continue to grow into the best version of themselves.”
Although working out is a big part of her life, Megan’s statement isn’t about making people more fit. It’s about helping them reach their goals.
That’s important because, for the people in this audience, their fitness goals may not take up as much space in our minds as all of their other goals.
Physical fitness is a means to an end.
That end may be improved energy, physical health, or mental health so that they are in a better place to do what they need to to reach their bigger goals.
Through the partnership, Planet Fitness is using advertising, an AR filter, co-branded merchandise, and free in-app workouts, inspired by Megan’s passion for fitness.
Its audience doesn’t need to worry about knowing what they’re doing because Planet Fitness is providing the gym, the classes, and the workouts through its app.
They don’t have to worry about paying a lot upfront because it’s a low-cost gym option (with a special deal in January).
They don’t need to worry about traveling far from home because there are so many of them.
(Since working on this Brand Story Breakdown, I’ve noticed there are 6 within 20 minutes of my house. I thought there was only 1.)
And while the campaign may not focus on helping people feel like they belong, not feeling like you don’t belong somewhere can be just as meaningful.
For Planet Fitness’s primary target audience, this can mean more energy spent working towards their other goals because they can just work out and get back to their lives.
Beyond providing a simple solution to a complex problem, all the proceeds from purchases of the co-branded merch go to Megan’s Pete & Thomas Foundation.
The mission of the foundation is to uplift and assist women, children, senior citizens, and other underserved communities through education, housing, health, and wellness.
For people on the fence about spending more money by purchasing merch, they get the benefit of knowing it goes to people who need it.
What You Can Learn From Planet Fitness About Sharing Your Own Story
Instead of trying to shape your personality and your business to appeal to as many people as possible, be yourself.
When you show up as yourself, you can create a memorable brand that stands out because your audience can connect with a real person—one who makes them feel seen, heard, and understood.
Showing up as yourself also makes it easier to be consistent with your messaging because it’s an extension of your actual experiences and beliefs.
A great way to show up as yourself while informing your audience and establishing yourself as an expert is to think about areas of your life that are adjacent to what you do in your business and share those stories too.
The more relatable these stories are to your ideal audience, the more likely they are to help you connect with them on an emotional level.
There are at least 12 stories you can take from Planet Fitness’ partnership with Megan The Stallion to share with your audience.
Share a story about a time you felt like you didn’t belong and how it impacted your life.
That impact can be related to
- how you fill that gap in your business,
- how it changed your relationships with people in your audience,
- or how it informs the businesses you support or partner with.
Share a story about a goal you had and how you found the solution.
You can do this by
- explaining why you set a specific goal for yourself
- or sharing how you arrived at the solution that was best for you.
If this solution is something you find yourself recommending, you could also explain who it’s best for and who it isn’t right for.
Share a story about the values you bring to your business.
This might include
- what you believe in and how it affects any aspect of your business,
- how your values influence what you do and how you do it,
- or how an experience influenced how you treat people in your personal life or business.
Note: Your values and beliefs go far beyond religion or spirituality. They come from your lived experiences too!
Share a story about your self-care routine or goals!
Sharing how you care for yourself tells people more about how you’ll treat them than you may think, especially if they may be anticipating judgment from experts in your industry.
Even if your business has nothing to do with health or wellness, you can give people
- a behind-the-scenes look into your life outside of business,
- a peek into who you are outside of your professional life,
- your wellness practices and how they affect your business,
- or your thoughts on something else you’re passionate about.
If you’re thinking about sharing any of these stories, consider how you can use each story to tell your audience what you stand for and what makes you unique.
Remember, statistics and insights are important but you are what makes your business unique. You are what draws people to your brand.
You are the key to making your brand successful!
Have you seen this campaign or partnership from Planet Fitness? Did you find this Brand Story Breakdown helpful?