After nearly seven months of mysterious announcements and a black-wallpapered website with a woman peering from a sticky cocoon, Star Trac is revealing its "Expect Different" campaign is not just about some swanky new product but about forging partnerships that will grow the number of people who workout.
"We're becoming more intelligent, and we're building better equipment, but people are turning away from (fitness) in mass numbers," Keith White, the company's director of global branding since January, told SNEWS®. "What is 'expect different?' We'd better wake up. We start talking a new way.
"We need to come together and use the same voice and share the responsibility of making a change," added White about the campaign he helped nurture when he began at Star Trac as a consultant 10 months ago.
"It's throwing down the gauntlet," he said, to the industry as a whole.
White said Star Trac hopes to challenge other companies to join it in the effort to make a change and bring more people into the fitness arena, who will join clubs, use equipment and buy equipment.
Sure, he said Star Trac has some new pieces to exhibit at the IHRSA show this week in San Diego, particularly strength equipment, and a new license with Apple to use iPod-specific docking and incorporation into its pieces. It also has a whole new booth -- a gargantuan one which will be the largest on the show floor -- and a spiffed-up look to spice up its presence and prove it means business on its route to being among the elite of the equipment suppliers.
"We've been looking for a reason we're in existence," White said, aside from building a solid treadmill.
"I'm not going to sit here and say Life Fitness, Technogym, Cybex or Precor don't have good product. They certainly do," he said.
The problem is that there are fewer people in the pie to use the equipment. The simple quest is: to get more people getting fit and working out.
"We're talking to the loyalists," he explained, "and still leaving the (inactive) behind."
The website (www.expectdifferent.com) has a section on the global obesity and inactivity situation. It also has a series of five industrial metal doors under the tag "opportunity" that slid up upon clicking at specified dates since last September. The doors are called Unaware, Discover, Engage, Retain, and Maintain. They apparently are intended to stand for the five Stages of Change, a behavioral psychology concept that SNEWS®/GearTrends® wrote about in the 2006 GearTrends® magazine (click here to find "Path to Change."). It illustrates the typical stages that people go through on their path to change, which the psychologists call Pre-Contemplation, Contemplation, Preparation, Action, Maintenance. Before anyone makes the step to exercise (or quit drugs or file for divorce or make any number of huge life changes) they need to get to the Preparation stage. That is what Star Trac has dubbed "Engage."
The Expect Different campaign has already partnered with national companies such as Hansen's sodas, Asics and Nature's Way supplements. For example, Hansen's will put the campaign name and logo on many millions of soda cans this year.
But this campaign doesn't just mean talking people into buying equipment or joining clubs, but means trying to get them active in some small way -- even just walking or taking the stairs -- since that one step could lead them on the path of change. And that path could lead them toward a club and equipment.
"We're all sitting at the piano," he said, "but we're hitting different keys."
The program will involve product, but also education and programs, and dig into communities through grassroots programs, he said. Much of that detail and campaign components are still to be announced and some of that will also be revealed at the IHRSA show March 5-8.
"We need to come together and use the same voice and share the responsibility of making a change," White said. "This is a challenge for all of us to wake up and unify."
SNEWS® View: All the way around there seems to be a voice rising from the industry about the need to get people active and the need for the industry to somehow pool its resources and work together for the betterment of all companies. Floating a boat and all that. We'll be interested to see the details of the campaign. We'll also be interested to see how and if other companies are willing to take part. This could develop into a multi-pronged cooperative of various agencies and groups, all of which would benefit from simply spreading the word and getting people moving.