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Ever wondered how to change your business structure and branding to a not for profit status? By changing to this structure you can contribute to sustainable capitalism and build strong relationships and affinities with your customers. Your customers then become your strongest ally selling your brand for you and contributing to positive change. Here is a practical example of what fitness and wellness brands can do.
The Guru Fitness ‘Gamification for ethical fitness – the truth will set you free campaign’ by Ethical Interactive
Guru Fitness and the new Gamification app can help you to become a better you and because of its affinity with truth, wisdom and intelligence in contrast to the illusionary hyperreality of fake competitors.
Guru Fitness – Truth will set you free.
An alternative fitness/gym – Guru Fitness – has just been bought by a giant multi-national corporation. It wants to expand the brand from its small origins into something everyone associates with fitness. The fitness/gym market is very saturated, and it realises it has to present something unique to the world to get those wanting to be fit, but not attracted to the usual fitness gym of mirrors and television. The campaign is to expand this brand without losing its alternative relationship to fitness. One of its directions that has already been established is an online presence that has made members feel like they are part of a community and team through regular contact and encouragement from both Guru and other members.
The goal of the campaign is to create an affinity and a surplus value for the brand beyond its utility value which emotionally resonates with the contemporary zeitgeist for ethical change. A deeper affective connection is nurtured through earnest corporate social responsibility efforts which will resonate with savvy politically aware, inner-directed gym and fitness consumers to form a dedicated brand tribe for deployment as citizen prosumers. While contemporary authenticity is a commodity, this campaign differentiates the Guru Fitness persona from the smoke and mirrors, puffery, snake-oil salesmanship and fakeness which is part of all too typical hyperreal, Instagram, fake gym experience, and deceptive branding perpetuated by the instrumentalist power of surveillance capitalism (Zuboff 2018, p.418). Conventional gym advertising is sometimes designed to coerce and shame consumers using unrealistic body images and gendered subjectivities through unethical deceptive, interruptive one-way communication practices which are tracible to the promotion to the patent medicine era leading to today’s hyperreality which treats authenticity as a commodity (Cohen 2018, Lears, 1983). In contrast, this creative campaign looks to harnesses consumer activism, open, ethical, interactive communication and the energy of native branding techniques which appropriate counter-culture and ever more personal aspects of life but without the puffery, deception, and coercion thereby elevating Gury Fitness brand image above ‘shallow’ consumerism.
The Therapeutic Ethos and Authenticity
Lears (1983) used the term The Therapeutic Ethos to explain how individuals began to strive for ‘personal betterment’ in the rise of consumption economy where people had more time and found themselves alienated from the means of production. Since the first consumer revolution, this has created a growing sense in the modern psyche that somehow, we have become a shallow fallen people. Authenticity advertising has subsequently come to fill a perceived void and becomes not only a way to sell consumers goods but to sell the very idea that ‘you could purchase your way to a better life’ and a better self (Holm, p.20). These trends have persisted and Potter (2010) claims ‘authenticity is the contemporary advertising equivalent of the search for the holy grail, the ultimate marketing position that can elevate the brand above the shiny fabricated world of spun messages and concocted experiences’ (p.3). Our goal, however, is not merely to expose the spun messages of other gyms in comparison to Guru Fitness but to contribute to sustainable capitalism and social change in a highly engaging quest through which stakeholders can identify and co-create the brand personality in a critically reflective evolutionary process, metonymic of wider societal trends.
Social Action and Commodity Activism
By adopting a co-operative .org structure and separating out the performative elements of authenticity from the earnestly transformative aspects, the Fitness for Change campaign aims not to perpetuate the contradictions of ‘authentic’ commodity activism and a binary which Bennet Wisner (2012) argued perpetuates the myth of a core authenticity, but to transcend them. We embrace the diverse stakeholder voices into a transformational process where clients are engaged in the co-creation of the brand, culture, and capitalism by providing the building blocks of a highly engaging identity quest which changes underlying powers structures which promote the disempowering, hyperreal, Instagram, gym experience to co-create with consumers of the brand, a genuine emancipatory community which enacts change beyond the performative. Marshall (p.191) advises ‘advertising provides a transformative discourse of the self while simultaneously linking people who share similar interests and consumption values’ and our campaign allows gym-goers to contribute to earnest social chance while exercising and ‘construct a social world in which an ‘authentic’ identity is expressed through consuming commodity signs. We intervene in this web of connections to leverage earned attention native advertising and the authentic street credos of social influencers already operating in the health and fitness market segment thereby bypassing the filters and creating resonance with our media-savvy inner-directed ‘target’ audience with contemporary sensibilities and desires which began with the Therapeutic Ethos (McStay 2016, p. 77).
Corporate Social Responsibility
Luttrell and Ward (2018 p. 18) found 90 per cent of customers will move their business because of corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts and a similar number are willing to boycott unethical companies. The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty, for example, did well by suggesting progress for the depiction of women’s body image and is often held up as a model for CSR, but there are hints of pinkwashing. While some aspects of beauty culture were challenged, its parent company was simultaneously advertising Axe body products using the objectification of women (Banet-Weiser, 2012). Bennet Wisner states how ‘important it is to understand that we live our lives through brands and how brand cultures are ambivalent, offering both possibilities of individual resistance within the boundaries of consumer culture as well as corporate hegemony’ (cited in Marshal 2018 p.191). While the neoliberal moment has seen the proliferation of commodity activism and resistance from the outside might seem futile part of the purpose for this campaign for Guru Fitness was to overcome what Sarah Banet-Weiser (2012) sites as the ‘contradictions inherent in grafting philanthropy and social action onto merchandising practices, market incentives, and corporate profits’ (p191).
A More Holistic Experience
As IbisWorld (2018) reported gymgoers are looking for a more holistic experience which is reflected in the move towards subtle practices like yoga and mindfulness. Woke consumers are also continually finding ways to filter out spin messaging and the puffery and false claims and want to contribute to sustainable change (ibid) and rather than simply spinning an authentic sign value Gury Fitness will become the change.
The Sage Architype and the campaign slogan “The truth will set you free”
One tried and tested way to establish resonance and distinction which allows consumers to quickly connect with the brand emotionally is through the use of the brand archetypes (Spink, 2012). Swiss Psychiatrist Carl Jung first used the term “Archetypes” in the context of personality that tap into the collective unconscious. Archetypes can quickly establish differentiation and a strong emotional connection.
The Guru fitness archetype is the Sage which cherishes truth over illusion. This is where the Fitness for Change campaign draws its inspiration from and the slogan ‘the truth will set you free’. The campaign centres around a gamification app which allows users to track their biometrics on a lifelong quest to improve their fitness while contributing their data to the community because the sage likes to share wisdom. The .org organisational structure provides resistance and empowerment against the hegemony of surveillance capitalism. The campaign also resists the binary that says the only authentic way is to disconnect from technology entirely Bennet Wisner (2012). Because the Sage appreciates complex philosophical layered messaging, we believe resisting the temptation to leverage the authenticity myth (that we were somehow better off before modern technology) and creating a more intelligent nuanced message will connect with our ‘target’ audience (The Sage Archetype 2019).
A Layered Campaign Strategy
Inspiration is taken from the Obama presidential campaign which used materials and data gathered from platforms to find out where resources are best used and deployed n layers (Marshall p. 165). Obama’s team managed to create significant involvement which meant that many brand advocates freely contributed materials and financial support while maintaining an authentic grassroots vibe. Obama had MoveOn.org support his candidature but the Guru Fitness campaign goes one step further and registers its activities and business structure as a not-for-profit. By not only seeking partnerships with the like of Getup and Change.org but by also creating the sign value and becoming primarily a political and social change organisation (not-for-profit cooperative) that works in the fitness space this will enable Guru Fitness to escape the contradictions of commodity activism. The Coca Cola Share A Coke (2014) campaign is another example of layering and leveraging the harnessed energy of earned authenticity from which we draw from as well as the campaigns sited in Mcstay (2016).
Media Mix Calendar
• Creative Teasers are created for YouTube. July
• Kiosks in universities that allow students to use gamification technologies that rack their biometrics and where the data kept by the users – rather than surveillance capitalism. Machines advertise the emergence of an emerging .org phenomenon. July
• Guru fitness registers as a not-for-profit.org and adapts this structure. Buzz is initiated by going native with sponsored posts on Buzzfeed in the anticipation of creating additional earned media (92 per cent of the audience’s trust earned media – McStay 2016). July – Aug
• Integrations and collaborations with other high-profile social brands like Getup.org.au at functions like the School Strike 4 Climate Australia (University section) will help bring recognition. Guru Fitness might provide features in its app that support the marches or contribute alternate data on the event like how many calories were burned and have their alternative energy-producing fitness machines and their alternative not-for-profit business model on show. Branded entertainment videos are produced and introduced across social media platforms in native formats. Sep
• Gyms transition to sustainable energy using solar power and energy-producing exercise machines are brought in. A back catalogue of innovations is established which allows for greater ease of earned media impressions. Sep-Oct
• Guru Fitness runs micro-targeted low CPM advertisements on social media championing their new gamification Fitness for Change ap and featuring content from brand ambassadors. Note: Burke, 2014 found that Gamification can motivate people to do extraordinary things and makes it possible to align organisational goals with community goals but over 80 per cent of advertisers get it wrong because they act in coercive self-interest (Burke, 2014 p. 9). The app is distributed to social influencers and their services sought in creating earned media.
• At each stage analytics, Insights and metrics like reach, scale and sentiment are measured and the messages that are resonating and prompting consumers to value ad to the brand as they share content to create content are reconfigured into the subsequent campaign level (McStay, 2015 p. 89). Machine learning algorithms are used to leverage efforts and resources for following campaign stages.
• The authentic messages and images captured are then fed into the branding for wider advertising campaigns using traditional media vehicles on television and radio. Stories of health and social transformation gathered from highly involved users are promoted to an appropriate audience. Memberships are promoted as a Christmas present for anticonsumers. November = December
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