Meet SportsArt's new ad guy: Spike

Part of SportsArt's new ad campaign has gone to the dogs -- a dog named Spike to be exact. Spike is a rather hip- and cool-looking pit bull with a spiked chain collar hanging from his muscular neck and sporting a pair of sunglasses. He's one of the stars of six new ads that SportsArt America will officially debut at the IHRSA trade show, March 22-25, and will roll out in trade journals this month.
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Part of SportsArt's new ad campaign has gone to the dogs -- a dog named Spike to be exact. Spike is a rather hip- and cool-looking pit bull with a spiked chain collar hanging from his muscular neck and sporting a pair of sunglasses. He's one of the stars of six new ads that SportsArt America will officially debut at the IHRSA trade show, March 22-25, and will roll out in trade journals this month.

In these equipment ads, forget beautiful people or hard bodies. You won't find women with towels hanging around their necks looking cool, calm and collected. You won't glimpse politically correct seniors having a good time. Heck, you won't even see stunning pictures of gleaming equipment or anyone working out.

What you will find is edgy humor with a line-up of ads that not only pushes the edge of the traditional advertising envelope, but actually dares to rip, tear and trample down the sides of that proverbial industry advertising box.

"No guts, no battle medals. It's like the industry is afraid to break out of the mold," said Rick Stanton, SportsArt America's advertising consultant with his company Stanton and Everybody. (With a company name like that, this guy has a sense of humor.) "Hats off to them for having the 'cajones' to do this and to break new ground."

To your right, you'll see Spike (only if you're online at www.snewsnet.com since the photos aren't in the PDF News Digest). If you attend the IHRSA show, you'll see his memorable visage on signage in the booth and you may get lucky enough to get a T-shirt with his mug on it. The ad copy is straightforward about the solid construction and reliability of the SportsArt product, but it's also written in a casual and readable manner, with the headline: "Like Spike, our equipment is tough, yet beautiful."

Another of the ads that we fancied (to the left, if you're online at www.snewsnet.com) was actually one of the first of the series, featuring a brick sh-- house. And we can use that language since we aren't a family newspaper. The headline reads: "Our machines are built like a brick…well, you know."

"The first thing I thought of was the brick sh-- house," Stanton told SNEWS®. He thought it up after he had researched the company and interviewed a bunch of people about it, all of whom mentioned the equipment's solid construction and reliability as key features.

"The ads will get people talking," Stanton said. "Why waste your money on something that's highly ignorable?"

Among the other ads are:

  • Bob a 350-pound guy who is bummed because he thought he saw job opportunity in testing SportsArt equipment. The copy reads, in part: "When Bob heard we tested our treadmills by duplicating the impact of a 350 lb. user he saw job opportunity. Sorry pal, our half-million square foot factory uses state of the art robotics…. Component life must exceed 15,000 miles, the equivalent of 10 miles a day for 4.5 years. Bob would be dead."
  • A woman in a suit doing a backbend on a desk with the headline: "We have one rule and one rule only regarding customer service."
  • An old-time black-and-white photo of a man pumping the handle into a box to ignite a dynamite explosion behind him. The headline reads: "Our testing procedure is pass/fail."

Stanton, who called SportsArt out of the blue a year ago after he had bought one of its bikes and loved it, said when he started researching industry ads he found he could tear off a company name or logo and they all looked the same.

"What it boils down to is that everybody is saying the same thing, the same way," Scott Logan, SportsArt director of marketing, told SNEWS®. "The heck with that. This is something a little different."

SNEWS View: For a long, long time, SNEWS® has cajoled companies in both fitness and outdoor to dare to be a little different and to stop just speaking to each other. When it comes to fitness, it's amazing how conservative an industry is that should be more about fun. Three cheers to SportsArt to taking not just one tiny step in that direction, but one mother-may-I giant leap. Just wait til you see the whole ad gallery. We certainly hope they set a standard. We have never seen anything in this industry that is so engaging, humorous and thought-provoking all at the same time. We bet this kind of thing isn't the easiest sell in board rooms; however, ads shouldn't just be about making suits happy but rather should be about attracting the everyday Jane and Joe who buy the equipment. Who doesn't want a little giggle in their life? We do, and we're sure Jane and Joe do, too.

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