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Virgin Active

Virgin Active came to us with an ambition to reinvigorate the gym experience and with an investment programme to back it up. Not content with simply being one of the pack they wanted to be first choice in an increasingly crowded market.

But it’s a market that’s changing quickly. From the arrival of smart technologies and alternative formats, to the emergence of new entrants (Barry’s Bootcamp) and budget options (easyGym), there are a lot of new choices out there. All of this means the established players need to be much smarter – and even more relevant – if they are to remain ahead.

Making movement mainstream

By focusing on two key user groups, Virgin Active are developing a series of innovative new products and services based on real customer needs. Our first collaboration was also one of the first global product launches to come out of this new approach. Introducing…The Grid.

The Grid is a typically Virgin take on the trend towards movement training that in recent years has reshaped the way people use the gym floor. The programme is designed to get people moving better, faster and more effectively whilst also turning up the intensity and social aspects of team training. By fixing the activity to a marked area of the gym floor – a grid of 2mx2m – the smart design allows large groups to work together. And it’s not for the faint hearted – you can burn 600 calories in just 30 minutes.

Through a series of workshops, interviews and research we created a singular proposition – ‘Learn to move the tough way’ – which was to guide the whole launch and help the user get the most out of it.

The Virgin brand gives us a license to do things differently – to be unconventional. With the Grid we’ve created something exciting for our members, an experience unlike anything else.” Tim Carter, Group Brand Director, Virgin Active

The new proposition focused the entire customer journey and inspired a series of neat interventions and additions to the experience. From the introduction of the Tough Minute (a killer 60 seconds of activity to raise the heart rate) through to digital sign-in screens and environmental takeovers, The Grid was hard to miss. Launching in 29 Virgin Active health clubs over the first few months of 2015 – supported by a new expression, internal communications and even its own gesture – it’s already making an impact on members and newcomers alike.

Always Discovering

Following The Grid, Virgin Active asked us to help define the strategic direction and communications idea for 2015. We kicked off with a focused period of customer research, revealing what people really wanted: a gym that broke the old routine to keep things fresh and exciting throughout the year.

This was followed by a series of working sessions with the senior leadership team, sales teams, product managers and other creative agencies. There we defined the concept of ‘Always Discovering’: a practical call-to-action encouraging members to get more out of every visit, but also a standard for internal teams to hit, to keep on innovating .

We really wanted to focus our campaign activation and internal innovation. Wolff Olins helped us to develop both a compelling idea and a distinctive visual approach that acts as that platform – it’s a powerful combination.” Clare Gambardella, European Marketing Director, Virgin Active

The campaign helps Virgin Active members stay motivated by keeping work-outs fresh and fun. Whether it’s The Grid, Zuu (primal movement training) or Nova (a fusion of yoga and pilates), it’s about showing people new and alternative ways to approach the gym. To get people started, Virgin Active has released three exclusive 20-minute online videos, available when customers pick up the Jump Start Pack in club.

The creative concept presents a uniquely Virgin perspective of movement training. By removing the gym equipment, we created a fun and intriguing image – one that captures the feeling of trying something for the first time..

The creative direction was exciting, the collaborative approach meant everyone was made to feel a part of the team on the shoot. I love the attitude of where we’ve landed; try something new and have fun doing it.” Mads Perch, Photographer