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Last weekend, the number one obstacle course racer in the world Jonathan Albon had an opportunity to win a $1 million. At the start of the year, Spartan Founder Joe De Sena vowed to give $1 million to any athlete who won all three Spartan World Championship Races – dubbed the “Million Dollar Trifecta”.

Jonathan Albon Spartan Race

The Spartan race is a series of obstacle races of varying distances and difficulty ranging from 3 miles to marathon distances. Jonathan Albon is an all-round athlete who competes in both obstacle course racing and skyrunning; currently the undefeated OCR world champion, skyrunning world champion and winner of both the 2016 & 2017 skyrunning extreme series.

Jonathan was set the challenge to win the jackpot of $1 million if he were to win the third and final event of the series – a 24-hour Ultra World Championship in Iceland. It wasn’t as simple as just completing it, he would only win the prize if he were to complete the 100-mile race within the 24-hour time limit set for the course.

Spartan Race Iceland

Raising their profile

Spartan approached The PHA Group to help raise the profile of the Ultra World Championships in Iceland, by utilising Jonathan’s participation. Jonathan is probably the UK’s most unknown world number one and PHA were set the challenge of ensuring everyone knew who he was.

The deadline was set for just two weeks…

The team set to work and focused their efforts on putting together a communication strategy that would raise Jonathan’s profile, increase coverage about the Ultra World Championships and all in a very tight timeline. Their ability to turn something around quickly and their extensive media relations experience and a large network of key sport and fitness journalists ensured great results with coverage across a wide range of publications and networks.

Tom Inskip, Sport & Fitness Senior Account Director said “We have a wealth of knowledge when it comes to working with mass participation events such as Royal Parks Foundation Half Marathon, Total Warrior and Mo Running. We also have a fantastic track record of championing athletes who don’t have the profiles they deserve. With this combined experience and contacts book, we were able to turn around and deliver quality coverage in a matter of days”

The results

Our experienced PR team managed to place 18 news stories around the event on major outlets including BBC Sportsday, Telegraph Online, BBC online, Mail Online, Sports Bible, Runner’s WorldThe I, Square Mile and Talk Sport. As well as a five-page feature on the event that was published on December 29th in Saturday Times Magazine.

Unfortunately, Jonathan didn’t manage the feat, but it made for a fantastic story and an incredible achievement nonetheless to participate and be in for a chance to take the top spot.

Interested in hearing about how we might be able to help you promote your mass participation event? Speak to a member of our award-winning team today to find out how we can support your event.

Two weeks, $1 million prize and only one winner – Spartan Race

Whatever the industry, brands will continue to battle it out for top spot until the end of time. It’s rare that we see a brand blow away its competitors for a sustained period and completely monopolize the industry in the process but that is exactly what global tech giant Fitbit did.

In less than a decade Fitbit went from being a hopeful startup that almost died seven times in the initial stages according to CEO James Park, to a tech powerhouse worth over $4 billion.

So how exactly did Fitbit dominate the wearables industry? We take a look at the strategies that turned the once-faltering startup into one of the most recognisable global brands on the market.

Product development

Fitbit decided to incorporate a process that saw them strive for improvement rather than perfection on all their products. There’s been a constant stream of new gadgets released ever since the very first Fitbit model launched at the end of 2009. The Ultra followed soon after in 2011, which included an altimeter, digital clock and stopwatch feature. The following year, Fitbit launched the One & Zip which were the first fitness trackers to be completely wireless.

In total, Fitbit have produced 18 different fitness trackers in just nine years, what makes it even more impressive is in 2015 they didn’t launch anything and still sold 18 million fitness trackers.

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Today is no ordinary Monday. Make the most of this Fitbit sale with up to $70 OFF—major discount-snagging endorphins coming your way. Ends tonight! Link in bio.

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Explaining the data

Over the years Fitbit’s sleek desktop dashboard has helped to provide consumers with an extra level of reassurance and knowledge to their workouts. Before Fitbit was around, there was very limited information available to consumers regarding their heartbeat and fitness levels, calories burnt during exercise, optimum points of the day when they have burnt the most calories all whilst tracking your daily steps. Fitbit empowered people to take ownership of their exercise.

This was a key strategy for the wearables brand and helped to cement Fitbit’s position as a giant in the fit-tech industry. By creating and building an environment where friends and family could compete against each other this let to an influx of fitness communities all around the globe. It became part of people’s fitness regime and the communities began to share and engage with each other over their results.

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A little sibling rivalry goes a long way to hitting those step goals. #NationalSiblingsDay

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Tactical partnerships

Fitbit took the decision to partner up with leading fitness and wellness businesses, realising that challenger brands in the industry could strengthen their position in the market. Fitbit could begin to target a larger demographic they wouldn’t have been able to reach.

They teamed up with Habit the world’s first complete personalised nutrition solution. Habit use Fitbit data to create tailored food recommendations and nutrition plans for consumers.

Another partnership was formed with Peloton, a company that makes peddling at home so realistic you’d think you were taking part in the Tour De France. The use of Fitbit data enabled Peloton customers to monitor their improvement and progress all in one app.

Fitbit’s data partnerships have resulted in a 37% growth of their active user community grew.

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Fitbit has partnered with three leading brands in the #health and #fitness market – VirZOOM, Peloton and Habit – to make it even easier for users to reach their personal fitness and #wellness goals!  #nutrition

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Branching out

Park realised they had to revamp the brand and find a new revenue away from the tough consumer market if they wanted to continue their growth, it was decided corporate wellness was the answer. Fitbit Care was designed to promote wellness, and improve disease management and prevention through health coaching, digital interventions and personalised care plans.

Health care costs pose a challenge to employers, so a platform that could help employees with conditions like obesity, diabetes and heart disease could turn out to be a great success for Fitbit.

The Fitbit Care launched in September, so it will be interesting to see if Fitbit’s latest move can help continue their success.

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The weekend is almost in sight, but it's important to look after yourself throughout the week too. Find the time to kick back and relax with some meditation using the Relax feature on your Fitbit. #SelfCare

A post shared by Fitbit UK & Ireland (@fitbituk_ireland) on

If you would like to find out more about our sport and fitness public relations services, or how we worked with some of the UK’s top sporting brands speak to a member of our team today.

Dominating the market: Fitbit

One of the most popular New Year resolutions is to exercise more, which means gyms and fitness classes often see a spike in membership sales throughout January. But often by March these numbers decrease, with members deciding to cancel their fitness dreams, leaving business owners pondering the same question they were last year ‘How can we keep our members long-term’.

For many fitness centres maintaining a membership drive consistently throughout the year can be a challenge. With some strategic planning, the right tools, and a continued approach to member engagement the revenue inconsistency can become less of an issue.

Reach out

Are you contacting and keeping your customers updated with the latest news about the gym especially when New Year resolution gym enthusiasm begins to drop off? LA Fitness needed a new way to keep their members’ attendance up and previous methods of calling weren’t cutting it. They decided to create an email marketing campaign which targeted people whose memberships were close to expiring. LA Fitness created a friendly offer-based email, with a clear and simple message linking to the renewals page of the site. The results, LA Fitness received a significant boost in open rates from 20% to 33% and upped their renewals.

Gather and monitor member reviews

According to an article published by The Drum, as much as 93% of consumers let online reviews impact purchasing decisions. This can have an effect on sales and will inform prospective members about your gym’s services, staff, facility and culture when they’re searching for a new gym to join. Reviews don’t only build trust, but they also play a major role in SEO performance, which is how Google calculates where you sit on the search engine. Brands have begun to use trusted independent review platforms such as Feefo, which allows consumers the opportunity to give a more authentic review, meaning that as a business you can judge far better what your members are happy and unhappy with.

Member challenges

Think about offering individuals or group challenges to your members. Not only will you be motivating them to exercise, but you’ll be encouraging them to engage with other members at the same time. Pure Gym challenged its members in May l, to find out who could do the most repetitions of three bodyweight exercises in just 30 seconds. The winners from each gym received a free month gym membership.

At The PHA Group, we specialise in providing PR support for multiple mass participation events.

Most recently we have worked with a number of brands including UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) – the world’s largest and highest mixed martial arts promotion, as well as successfully launching the endurance event ToughMudder to the UK, and for the last four years, we have worked closely with the Royal Parks Half Marathon.

The 11th edition of the Royal Parks Half Marathon takes place on Sunday 14 October where we will see 16,000 runners go through four of London’s eight Royal Parks, including Hyde Park, The Green Park, St James’s Park and Kensington Gardens.

It is still the only race of its kind that takes place in the major parks of central London, and whilst there have been some small changes to the route over the years, the race continues to celebrate London’s most iconic green landscapes.

In order to create as much noise as possible ahead of the event, and to ensure The Royal Parks Half Marathon is continually positioned as one of the most iconic events in London, we have worked tirelessly to deliver a successful communications campaign over the last four years. We’ve regularly delivered over 200 pieces of coverage around the race and employed excellent tactics to achieve our client’s objectives.

This year we have achieved over 80 pieces of coverage alone in outlets such as the Evening Standard, Women’s Health, Daily Express, Metro and

Working with charity partners
The Royal Parks Half has remained focused on its charitable aims which is a credit too much of its success with their many charity partnerships. The race has now raised in excess of £36 million since 2008 for its participating charities. Working closely with the races charity partners, we have been very successful at placing runner case studies of individuals who are taking part in the event to raise money for their respective charities. Last year, we placed 40+ case studies for charities including GOSH, Cancer Research UK, Mind, and MacMillan. Helping to increase their fundraising efforts.

royal parks charityroyal parks charity 2royal parks charity 3

Maximising sponsorship opportunities
The Royal Parks Half Marathon work has different sponsors each year and we work closely with them to maximise coverage around the race. Whether that’s inviting journalists to do a gait analysis at Runners Need, to placing expert comment from coaches at TruBe, to announcing corporate sponsorship deals with Royal Bank of Canada, our campaigns always maximise opportunities.

Engaging with celebrities
Over the course of the last four years, we’ve had a number of celebrities take part in the race including TV personality Ben Fogle, Olympian Rebecca Adlington, actor Adam Woodyatt, radio presenter and DJ Chris Evans and TV presenters Jenni Falconer, Emily Maitlis and Jo Whiley.

Royal Parks - Mail online celeb

Media engagement
Every year we have secured attendance from at least 30+ journalists including London Evening Standard, Mail Online, Daily Express, Mirror Online, Metro, ITV London, The Telegraph, Men’s Fitness, Women’s Health and Women’s Fitness have all taken part in the event in the last few years.

Mail Online - Royal ParksEvening Standard - Royal ParksRoyal Parks - ITV News

We pride ourselves on delivering impactful, measurable campaigns for our clients and don’t stop working until the job is done. As a team, we are hugely passionate about sport and fitness and love what we do. You can expect that enthusiasm to shine through in every aspect of our work.

Interested in hearing about how we might be able to help you promote your mass participation event? Speak to a member of our award-winning team today to find out how we can support your event.

How to promote your sporting event

Never underestimate the importance and power of PR. For brands to maintain a positive public image they need PR to help them maintain awareness, which in turn helps facilitate sales and growth.

Indeed, a PR strategy can be critical to the success of a small business, especially when they are just starting out. The fitness industry is overcrowded but consumers will always be drawn to fitness brands if they can see that the product or service is having a positive impact on people’s lives.

Here we look at three success stories of fitness brands who have used PR to maximise their exposure.

  1. Joe Wicks- The power of social media

From starting out in his flat in West London, in the space of just five years, Joe Wicks aka “The Body Coach” has been transformed into one of the most recognisable names in the world of fitness.

He has been called the man with the million-dollar muscles and Joe is now at the helm of his fat loss business empire that employs 50 people and made £12million last year.

In 2014, he started uploading motivational content about fitness and nutrition and he has since gone on to release multiple number one selling cookbooks, bestselling fitness DVD’s and has amassed some 2.3 million followers on his Instagram channel.

He has transformed the lives of thousands across the world through his “Lean in 15” videos but Joe’s business empire has grown off the back of his social media success. It’s allowed Joe to build up a strong community of loyal followers who’ve made his content viral and built The Body Coach brand into what we know it today.

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There’s a wicked #CyberMonday offer on Amazon today

  1. LDN Muscle- Sharing success stories

After starting out on the Exton’s family kitchen table in 2012, LDN Muscle has gone from strength to strength in the last six years, to the point where they are now turning over £1.5million annually. The business, which was set up by twins Tom and James Exton and brothers Max and Lloyd Bridger, started out as a blog, but downloadable fitness guides soon followed helping to transform the lives of hundreds of thousands of people around the globe.

Their success was born through the individuals who successfully transformed their lives through the downloadable e-guides and the consistent national coverage on the likes of the Mail Online, Mirror Online, Sun Online, which highlighted the success stories of their customers, ultimately helping to position them as the market leaders in their sector.

LDN Muscle have expanded into apparel, education through the launch of the LDNM PT Academy, they have a trusted supplements range as well as a number one selling fitness app.

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That feeling when you use the Cutting Guide to get in peak condition for Ibiza! ✅

  1. MuscleFood- Cross promotional activity

In 2017, MuscleFood surpassed £100m in sales – which is highly impressive for a brand which only launched in 2013. PR has played an important part in that growth with consistent national media coverage ensuring that the brand stays at the front of consumer minds. However, what MuscleFood have done well is promote their services with other brands operating in the fitness sector.

This tactic not only enables both brands to gain access to the database and social media channels of the other but, in doing so, it also allows both businesses to gain a greater level of exposure amongst a new audience.

MuscleFood has carried out cross-promotional activity with brands in the running events sector and protein market, as well as with gyms and online personal trainers. MuscleFood always offer strong promotional discounts and competition prizes when it does this type of activity. MuscleFood has, through cross-promotional activity such as this, been able to gain a very strong presence on social media, including 280K followers on Instagram.

Ultimately, to help your business grow you need to tell a story and a well thought out public relations strategy is the best way to do that. Good PR helps construct and create a brand identity which people trust. When PR is executed properly, success will soon follow. Contact our team today to find out how we can support you.

How PR has played a major role in the growth of fitness brands

Influencer marketing has become a powerful communications tool. In recent years brands and businesses in the fitness industry have seen a spike in new customers due to the incorporation of influencer marketing as part of their strategy.

We look at the best strategies businesses in the fitness industry can implement to drive new business opportunities for their brand and increase their overall engagement.


According to a study conducted by Nielson, ‘84% of consumers say they trust peer recommendations above all other sources of marketing’. How many of us have bought something because our friend says they love it? We know we have, and it is no different when it comes from influencers on our network. Product promotions, trials and testimonials are some of the most effective pieces of content for brands and businesses.

Whether your business is a chain of gyms, bespoke fitness apparel or a specific nutritional guide, incorporating influencers in your new business strategy can help drive engagement. Consumers love to read and relate to success stories. When the brand Multipower launched their ‘Muscles in HD’ campaign, it showed how recommendations from influencers can boost business.

The campaign itself was aimed at an image conscious Instagram audience, sharing before and after selfie shots to highlight progress. Multipower decided not to pay the influencers for their time, but instead gave them the product to try for a month and incorporate into their gym routines. Capturing the influencers transformation to convey the HD sculpting effect of the product.

Jack Wellon

The Multipower website recorded its best ever month of traffic with a 58% year on year increase, and their social channels received 800 new followers up 102%. It’s worth mentioning the brand also recorded a sales increase of the new powder range.

Spark comments and conversations

Providing your customers the opportunity to engage in conservation with a relevant ambassador or influencer is an effective method to drive traffic to your site, and increase discussion about your brand.

Live chats, Q&A sessions or pop up events to meet influencers drive a real buzz and can attract plenty of press coverage. In a similar vein, Tough Mudder decided to use Facebook Live and host a preview for potential participants with legendary Tough Mudder coach and influencer Coach T. Mud leading participants through a training course. It meant that people could see exactly what they were signing up for, the video has amassed over 53,000 views.

Ensure longevity

A one-off social media post or a sponsored advert won’t have long term impact. You may see an initial spike on the day of the post, but planning consistent messaging building ongoing relationships are vital to the success of your influencer campaign.

Be sure that the influencer you decide to make the face of your campaign is consistently promoting your brand throughout the whole process, set up an ongoing relationship, this will provide authenticity and consistency for your target audience. A brand who decided to follow this approach when launching their fitness campaign was London based boutique brand 1Rebel. Utilising some of London’s largest fitness influencers over a sustained three-month promotion, one of the key influencers used during the campaign was nutritionist Jessica Ball, who posted about the brand four times a week for four weeks providing some excellent engagement for the brand.

Engage with your existing members

It’s worth remembering that securing new business for your gym is nothing without keeping your existing members happy too. UN1T, a boutique gym based in Fulham and London Bridge have recently hired fitness influencers Zanna Van Dijk and Twice the Health (Emily and Hannah) to be coaches and lead several classes a week. This move works for two reasons, as they actively encourage new sign-ups on their Instagram stories whenever they lead a class, but it also inspires existing members to return and exercise at UN1T.

If you would like to talk to someone about incorporating an influencer communications strategy into your next campaign, why not speak to a member of our award-winning team today.

How influencer marketing can attract new business

For the past four years, we have been working with leading health and fitness company LDNM. In that time the business has gone from strength to strength, from turning over £50 to a business which now turns over £1.5 million. As well as selling downloadable fitness guides to over 150,000 people worldwide, LDNM has a Personal Training Academy, a fitness app, a supplements range, a clothing range and a nationwide food delivery service.

We helped LDNM launch their new fitness app to market and the success was incredible, with the app reaching number two in the world for downloads in the health and fitness paid for apps category.

Health and fitness apps have continued to grow in popularity over the last few years and that trend continues to gather momentum.  According to research from Flurry Analytics, usage of health and fitness apps has grown by over 330% in the last three years (

The trend of following a healthy lifestyle makes people turn to health and fitness apps as it provides them with the fastest and easiest solution to stay on track. But what’s the best way to promote a fitness app in a highly competitive marketplace and what PR tactics should your business use to maximise exposure and drive downloads?

Properly executing a well thought out strategy is key, and here are our three pieces of advice to make sure you stand out from the crowd…

Appeal to your target audience

The success of LDNM and the foundation of the business are the customers who download their fitness guides. Making sure we had a bank of case studies of real people who had transformed their lives through the help of LDNM at the time of the launch, helped us secure coverage in key outlets which are read by LDNM’s demographic. We achieved coverage in the Mail Online, Mirror Online, Sun Online and and within each article, we ensured that the call to action was for people to head to the app store to download the app.

Utilise your assets and tell a story

LDNM was founded by two sets of brothers, twins James and Tom Exton and brothers Max and Lloyd Bridger. At the time, the female face of the business was Alice Liveing aka “Clean Eating Alice”. Through our ongoing PR campaign with LDNM, we carefully built their respective profiles in the health and fitness media, national media and business press.  We then strategically placed articles which positioned them as experts in each of those sectors, ensuring that the coverage landed around the time that the app launched to further build momentum and maintain the buzz around the launch. One way we successfully achieved this was through capitalising on the news agenda and by putting forward the founders- who are all qualified PT’s as spokespeople to comment on topical issues. Co-founder Lloyd Bridger appeared on Sky News to talk about the pros and cons of fitness trackers.

Fitness tracker sky news

Timing and social media is key

In the fitness world, the first quarter between January- March is the best time to capitalise on consumer behaviours. The LDNM fitness app launched in

March and internally LDNM did a lot of organic promotion to tease the launch of the app during the “new year, new you” period across their hugely engaged social channels- which have a combined following of almost one million.

PR should work hand-in-hand with a well thought out social media strategy and if executed correctly, it should amplify the reach and impact of your app launch.  In our experience, taking time to carefully plan a well thought out strategy is key. Ensure that you build the trust of your existing customer base first before you launch so that you can test the waters, which in turn will help you attract new customers and ultimately drive app downloads.

If you’d like to find out how our award-winning sports team or our social media experts can help bolster your app or brand speak to a member of the team today.


How to launch a new fitness app in a highly competitive market

The recent State of the UK Fitness Industry Report revealed that the health club industry is continuing to grow with more clubs, more members and a greater market value than ever before (£4.7bn). And this is just the health club sector. With each sector of the fitness industry becoming more and more crowded, what do fitness brands need to do in order to position themselves as market leaders? Here, we take a look at five great ways to do just that.

1) Sharing success stories
Consumers will always be drawn to fitness brands if they can see that the product or service is having a positive impact on people’s lives. The leading gym chain in the UK, Xercise4less, has been very successful in placing case studies, which show off how the gym chain has helped to change members’ lives for the better.

Some examples:
A member who has used Xercise4Less facilities to lose weight
A member who is using exercise to fight off mental health problems
A personal trainer duo who launched a class for mental health

2) Utilising Instagram Influencers
In a recent survey by One Poll, Instagram was voted one of the biggest influencers, when it comes to consumer behaviour, ahead of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Every month we are witnessing more and more influential Instagram users pop up on the scene, users who inform and educate their followers about health, fitness and nutrition through their Instagram channels.

These individuals are all part of a new generation of online influencer, which the savviest fitness brands are already tapping into.

Although an online health and fitness influencer may have a smaller reach than traditional media outlets, their followers are likely to be precisely the target audience that fitness brands are looking to attract.

Fitness clothing brand Gymshark, which was founded just over two years, has clearly invested a lot of its marketing budget on engaging with online influencers. Now Gymshark is a market leader in the “trendy” gym clothing sector. Through effectively engaging with online influencers, the brand has built up a social following of over 1.5m on Facebook and over 2.7m on Instagram.

Here are some great examples of social media influencers that health and fitness brands should look to engage with:

  • Lydia Millen and Ali Gordon: They are known as ‘The Lifestyle Couple’ of social media with over 1m followers between them. They currently work with the likes of GymShark, a leading supplement brand and the camera brand Olympus.
  • The Harrison Twins: Owen and Lewis Harrison have over 1.25m followers between them and are the face of leading sports nutrition brand ESN.
  • Zanna Van Dijk: Zanna has attracted a great deal of attention for documenting her body transformation on Instagram. She now has 240k Instagram followers and works with a number of brands including Adidas.

3) Becoming a voice of authority
If yours is a fitness brand which focuses on the wellbeing of its customers then it is important that consumers believe in, and respect, the advice and opinion of individuals within your organisation. Positioning these individuals as voices of authority within the media is a great way of gaining respect from consumers and also cementing the reputation of your brand as a trustworthy industry leader.

In order to gain that respect, key spokespeople from your organisation should be writing thought leadership pieces on a regular basis on the subject(s) that they specialise in. It is also important to keep on top of the news agenda, as this will help to provide your spokespeople with the opportunity to react and respond to relevant news stories which are been covered in the media.

LDN Muscle, a business which produces downloadable e-guides, are regularly featured in this way in the media. Often, this even goes as far as providing them with the opportunity to use negative stories, as a way of promoting their own products and services in a positive way:

Here are some examples:

When TOWIE star Gemma Collins discussed her use of juice diets, LDN Muscle provided comment on the dangers of such diets and explained how to get in shape using their Bikini Guides, instead.

4) Securing celebrity ambassadors
Many brands within the health and fitness space choose to utilise celebrity ambassadors to help build the profile of their brand and promote their products or services.

When it comes to brands identifying a suitable celebrity ambassador, it is imperative that they choose someone who their target market can relate to, and will respond to.

One of the best celebrity partnerships was launched by clothing label Ellesse with Lucy Mecklenburgh. The partnership was designed to promote Ellesse’s range of fitness clothing. Lucy is incredibly popular amongst young females and has shown an incredible passion for fitness in recent years. As such, this was a brand ambassador relationship which was believable, and which effectively targeted the correct end user.

5) Exploring cross promotion
With so many different markets in the fitness industry, there are many opportunities for brands to cross-promote their services with other brands operating in the same sector.

This tactic not only enables both brands to gain access to the database and social media channels of the other but, in doing so, it also allows both businesses gain a greater level of exposure amongst a new audience.

Specialist food company MuscleFood has carried out cross-promotional activity with brands in the running events sector and protein market, as well as with gyms and online personal trainers. MuscleFood always offers strong promotional discounts and competition prizes when it does this type of activity. Both brands, meanwhile, benefit from a greater level of exposure. Like GymShark, MuscleFood has, through cross-promotional activity such as this, been able to gain a very strong presence on social media, including 270K followers on Instagram.

If you’re interested in learning more about how PR can make your fitness brand stand out, get in touch with us today

Make your fitness brand stand out

The concept of a brand hiring an influencer to promote a product, service, event or wider campaign isn’t new. In fact, with many brands reporting that traditional advertising and marketing such as television, print media and digital are becoming less effective, it is no surprise that more and more brands are including permanent influencer marketing spend in their budgets.

No longer can we afford to think of influencer marketing as a novel strategy, when by the year 2020 influencer marketing global spend is set to become a billion-dollar industry.

One brand that we wanted to highlight in this piece is adidas, whose effective influencer strategy has had tangible effects on both sales and brand awareness and is, without a doubt, a contributing factor in adidas CEO, Kasper Rørsted being able to say that ‘2017 was a strong year – financially and operationally. We made great progress toward achieving our mission to be the best sports company in the world.’

Below are five notable ways we can learn from adidas’ success with influencers over the last two years:

Creative content

In addition to giving influencers creative freedom when it comes to content, adidas also create their own bespoke content that features influencers. As an influencer, this content is something you want to be involved in and want to share across your social channels because it’s different, exciting and more often than not, something you would not be able to produce yourself. adidas, therefore, ends up with engaging content for use on their own channels and a group of top fitness influencers sharing the same content with their thousands of followers. This is a tactic that works incredibly well when spreading campaign messaging or supporting kit launches.

Example 1: Back in January adidas worked with many of the UK’s leading fitness influencers to create content that featured each influencer encouraging their followers to set goals for 2018 and show the year ‘what they are made of’:

Hey 2018! ✨


Example 2: Just this month adidas turned their ambassador, model and businesswoman Karlie Kloss, into a hologram, along with many other UK fitness influencers, to launch the new Stella McCartney collection for adidas:

Well hello Sunny Saturday! Whats everyone up to today?

Worldwide community

adidas have successfully built a community of influencers worldwide which allows them to tap into an international audience of millions.

By building an influencer network, adidas have increased the momentum to be able to promote and grow the brand in a long-lasting way, creating brand awareness with different audience groups which ultimately means better brand visibility.

Example 1: adidas ambassadors/influencers from different countries often link up and create content to share across their platforms. They tag each other and adidas in their respective posts allowing both influencer and adidas to reach a new market.

Here, London based fitness influencer Bradley Simmonds linked up with Australia’s Steph Smith whilst she was on a trip in London:

Last session with @stephclairesmith before she heads back to @adidasau, ending with a strong one

BACK IN THE GAME with @adidasau @stephclairesmith

Here, two adidas global ambassadors – Adrienne LDN (London) and Julie Nelson (New York) – met up at the adidas Studio ahead of an adidas event:

Look who’s in town!

Example 2: Whether it’s a kit launch or fitness event, the support of their influencer community often means that adidas have hundreds and sometimes thousands of pieces of social coverage to amplify their reach.

This worked exceptionally well when influencers from across the globe touched down in London town for the launch of adidas Athletics Z.N.E. Pulse Collection:

What an extraordinary feeling it is to be a part of the @AdidasMENA ambassador team for the global launch of the @Adidas #ZNE #PulseCollection. Inspired by heartbeats of athletes from around the world

Had a really good yoga session today with these lovely girls ☺️ unfortunately I am not as flexible as them, but I tried my best

I can't even begin to put in words how magical this trip has been for me. Meeting inspiring people from every part of the world, making new friends, and the most amazing part of it all, experiencing the world of @adidas has been so eye opening for me. It's incredible how much you can learn in so little time of you believe in yourself and get out of your comfort zone. Friends, if there's anything you're hesitating to do today because you're scared, nervous or unsure- TAKE THE LEAP. You're stronger than you think

Good morning my friends! Today I was meeting the amazing @adidas ambassadors from all over the world, and we are so excited for the big release of the PULSE collection tonight! @adidas @adidasisrael #zne #ThePulseOf ✌

Influencer campaigns

adidas often run influencer campaigns using their global hashtag, #heretocreate, that aim to inspire and to get eyes on new product launches. These campaigns are extremely valuable because they allow influencers to tell adidas’ story for them and let’s face it, what better way to show off new kit or trainers than with multiple fitness influencers posting athletic pictures of themselves all wearing the same kit, alongside inspirational messaging.

Example 1: adidas Women’s Training wanted to inspire to help kick-start New Year fitness regimes with a New Year campaign. UK based fitness influencers shared their goals for 2017 on New Year’s Day in the hopes of inspiring and encouraging their followers to set and achieve their own goals. Each influencer involved in this campaign shared a post on Instagram and created in Instagram story to go alongside it:

2017 I'm coming for you

{{ 2017 • L O O K I N G • U P }} So for many the new year brings many new goals, new dreams, new starts and new resolutions… I'm setting myself the goal to create STRENGTH through BALANCE in 2017. Strength to train hard, laugh often, explore more, forgive easily, practice fearlessness, do yoga every day and be kind to myself. In hope of finding continued balance in my work, family and social life … and of course in side plank

{{ 2017 • L O O K I N G • U P }} So for many the new year brings many new goals, new dreams, new starts and new resolutions… I'm setting myself the goal to create STRENGTH through BALANCE in 2017. Strength to train hard, laugh often, explore more, forgive easily, practice fearlessness, do yoga every day and be kind to myself. In hope of finding continued balance in my work, family and social life … and of course in side plank

Example 2: Once again utilising their relationships with fitness influencers, adidas gifted each influencer with the latest kit from the adidas Women’s Training collection and asked them to post a creative and inspiring image on their Instagram channels:

Just wanted to give you guys a #BestMe update. In 10 days, I have honestly gone from feeling so frustrated with my physical & mental progress to feeling like a whole new woman. Just by making some simple and effective tweaks to my training and nutrition I truly feel like I am getting back to my best. And it turn it gave me the confidence to rock this super cute @adidasuk crop top & leggings, that I wouldn't have felt too comfortable in a few weeks back. I put it down to nourishing my body, moderating my portions and becoming in tune with my hunger cues. I also put it down to consistency in the gym, smashing my workouts and in turn already noticing progress in my strength & fitness. And this is only the beginning….in the coming weeks & months I am #heretocreate my best self. My fittest self. My strongest self. My happiest self. If you're looking for the same then come and do this with me! I'll be sharing the changes I've made & little tips and tricks that I believe can help you to feel your best. Already so excited to have so many of you on board! The support you guys give is like nothing else I have experienced, so let's support each other on this journey.

When I started my role as an @adidas global ambassador I was asked what my ultimate goal is. The answer? I am #heretocreate an army of strong women. Women who look after their bodies because they love them. Women who want to better themselves. Women who support each other. Women who empower each other. Women who lift each other up. Women who radiate good vibes ✌

Create the things you wish existed. Feeling super excited about some upcoming projects and events and getting creative again!

Free classes and run clubs

adidas host a variety of free influencer led fitness classes and run clubs that allows them to broaden their influencer activity and further engage with their audience, ultimately driving brand awareness.

This activity allows adidas to create an experience around their brand, both for the influencer and for the audience, and so brings the brand to life.

Furthermore, through adidas, consumers are able to meet and be trained by the influencers who inspire them, building brand trust and loyalty.

Example 1: 152 Brick Lane is adidas’ woman’s studio. Here, adidas film a lot of their influencer fitness content, book inspirational guest speakers, and offer influencer led classes:


Thanks for having me @adidasuk had a blast teaching the runners and can't wait to be back!

Example 2: Back in July 2016, adidas launched ‘adidas Runners’, a community of runners who use the city of London as their training ground. The Facebook group has amassed thousands of followers and the runs themselves are not only led by influencers but they also attract influencer and journalist participation:

City Run LDN


Influencer collaboration to create original products

adidas know that growing and evolving an influencer partnership keeps the relationship fresh and exciting. It helps grow the brand and, if done well, can establish a brand as leading and relevant.

One great way adidas have achieved this is by collaborating with influencers to create original products that appeal to the influencers followers and also to their target audience.

Example: adidas collaborated with London based fitness influencer and adidas global ambassador, Zanna Van Dijk, to highlight the miadidas functionality on the adidas website which effectively allows consumers to customise their own footwear, choosing styles, fabrics, colours and writing.

Zanna created a trainer collection inspired by the things that she identified as making her the person she is. Things like the city of London, physical challenges and a desire to empower women.

adidas also created a slick campaign video to share on the site and across social announcing the collaboration:

From Wimbledon to the Ashes, from Football World Cups to Ryder Cups, the sporting calendar is not short of spectacular and iconic events. These offer up opportunities for brands to control the conversation and get fans engaging with them on a worldwide stage. With as many failures as successes to review in recent years, we look at best practice for getting ahead of your rivals.

  1. Be ready to react

It sounds simple, but one of the best ways to successfully position your brand at the forefront of the conversation around an event is being ready to adapt to unfolding events. Sport is all about reacting quickly to often unpredictable situations, and this is something brands would be wise to emulate.

The standard was set by Oreo during Super Bowl XLVII, when a massive power outage struck at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, putting a section of the stadium into darkness for a full half hour.

Oreo capitalised on the blackout, turning around an advert in double quick time of an Oreo on a blacked-out background, with the caption: “Power out? No problem. You can still dunk in the dark.”.

Having released a commercial earlier during the game, the social team at Oreo were closely monitoring the ad’s success on social, as well as general mentions of the Super Bowl. Then when the blackout struck, they noticed how the conversation online quickly shifted. Within a matter of minutes Oreo’s digital agency, 360i, had put a new ad together. The blackout post resulted in 10,000 retweets, 5,000 shares and 18,000 likes on Facebook – all within the first hour of posting.

With an audience of well over 100 million in America alone, the Super Bowl is one of those events that promises to capture the attention of fans across the world, and Oreo and their agency’s quick thinking meant that they were able to achieve the kind of cut through amongst that huge audience that other brands could only dream of.

Oreo’s success was down to the fact that they were lightening quick off the mark and that they were listening to the conversation on social and were willing to go off script. On this occasion that quick thinking certainly paid off.


  1. Make your campaign flexible

As long-standing sponsors of the England Rugby team, O2 wanted to capitalise on the 2015 Rugby World Cup, in which England were tournament hosts. The telecommunications service provider rolled out their ‘Make Them Giants’ advertisement, where the support of England fans made the players grow until they were the size of buildings. O2 also renewed its ‘Wear the Rose’ campaign, calling on fans to show their loyalty to the team and giving them the chance to tweet messages directly to the players using the #WeartheRose hashtag.

When England made history for all the wrong reasons in becoming the first ever host nation to exit the tournament at the group stages, it had the potential to result in a huge failure for the sponsor. O2, however, argued that with over five million messages of support on social media, it was still a success. That’s open for debate but what it proves is the importance of not pinning all your hopes on one outcome: namely (in this particular case), England lasting the distance in the tournament and making sure your campaign is flexible.

Whilst O2 justified their ad campaign by pointing out that they were “here for the ups and the downs”, it’s hard to ignore the fact that had England performed better on the pitch, then the campaign might have had more conviction.


  1. Explore collaborations with other sports

One way to tap into new audiences is by looking at cross promotion across other sports. Ahead of the start of the F1 season in 2016, Red Bull Racing teamed up with Bath Rugby Club for a true test of man against machine.

Red Bull have pitted their cars against everything from drag races to jet fighters in the past, but here they decided to take on a rugby scrum.

With the Australian Grand Prix always kicking off the F1 race calendar, Red Bull enlisted their Perth born driver Daniel Ricciardo to go up against Bath Rugby’s finest to help promote the upcoming season. The car’s 800 brake horsepower found itself up against a tough opponent taking on the combined 900kg weight of the Bath pack.

The stunt achieved widespread coverage and enabled Red Bull to engage a whole new set of fans. It’s the sort of “out there” marketing that is synonymous with the racing team, as evident by one user’s response to the video in the comments section of the YouTube clip – “Only Red Bull can do this.”

“Brandscaping” is a great way to leverage the audiences of other sports and can really help your brand tap into new audiences.


  1. Don’t be afraid to challenge stereotypes

Campaigns that push the boundaries in a way that few brands are willing to do so come with risk, but with that risk comes the potential for huge reward.

Taking such a risk during one of the biggest sporting spectacles in the world, the Superbowl, is even braver, but that’s exactly what Always did… and the reward was certainly worth it.

Always, the Procter & Gamble feminine products brand, had previously struggled to create shareable content because consumers were reluctant to be associated with periods. Making a feminine hygiene brand more popular is a difficult brief, but Always managed to do it by returning to its roots. “Confidence” is something the brand has always tried to champion as part of its brand values. Confidence in the product transitioned into self-confidence for their #LikeAGirl campaign.

Always reasoned that gender stereotypes have become so deep-seated in society that they impact how we communicate. To look at this, Always created a social experiment where boys, girls, men and women were invited to a pretend casting-call. Here they were asked to do various things “like a girl”. Subjects were asked to run, throw and punch “like a girl”. Every age and gender category, except the young girls, reacted in the same way, i.e. they acting in a silly way and made the imaginary girl they were imitating seem weak and inept.

Young girls, however, did not follow suit. Instead, they responded to each action they were asked to do by giving it their all and exuding conviction in what they were doing. The conclusion drawn from this was that these pre-pubescent girls had not yet been affected by society’s apparent characterisation of womanhood. Doing something “like a girl”, for them, meant nothing else than giving it everything they had.

A 60 second version of the ad aired during the Super Bowl in 2015. To date, the clip has had more than 90 million views. With the NFL having long faced issues around domestic violence, the airing of an ad turning a negative stereotype of girls on its head was hugely powerful and emotive.

  1. Putting your brand at the heart of the story, without it needing to be the story

Whenever a brand invests in a sport sponsorship, or an activation around a particular sporting event, they are obviously aiming to get the best return possible and to make the most of all of the additional eyeballs they are gaining access to. However, focusing too heavily on the brand ‘story’ or the products or services of that brand can often lead to your targeted audience switching off. The key, therefore, is to get your brand in to the heart of the action whilst also ensuring the content excites and engages.

HUGO BOSS has been particularly successful at doing this in recent years. The luxury fashion house has sponsored British sailor Alex Thomson since 2003, in what is one of the longest standing partnerships in the sport.

Thomson competes in the Vendee Globe – a solo, non-stop, 25,000-mile race around the world which takes place every four years. It is the biggest race in the offshore sailing calendar.

In the build up to the 2016 edition of the race, Thomson and his team – who have become known for their daring stunts – rolled out The SkyWalk.

The SkyWalk involved Thomson, on a kiteboard, chasing his IMOCA open 60 HUGO BOSS boat upwind and attaching himself via a rope to the top of the boat’s mast. The skipper then utilises the speed of the race boat to propel himself 280ft into the air, sending him surfing above the vast yacht. When Thomson reaches the peak of his flight, he detaches himself from the boat and expertly controls his descent back down, coolly landing the kiteboard on the water, all whilst wearing a stylish BOSS suit.

Whilst the whole concept of the video had nothing to do with the BOSS brand, the products were front and centre and the branding was all over the boat throughout the shot. To date, the video has had just shy of 1.4 million views on YouTube alone.  These viewer numbers wouldn’t have been achieved if HUGO BOSS had made a film about a suit. No, it was the daredevil nature of the stunt that attracted the viewers. Of course, once they were watching the video, they were then all exposed to the HUGO BOSS brand.


  1. Engage with your fans

Creating an attraction which offers fans an interactive opportunity to engage with your brand is easier said than done, but when done well can produce great results.

To tie in with this years’ Wimbledon, drinks brand Robinsons, which has been associated with the Championships for many years, partnered up with KFC to take over the Wimbledon town centre branch. This was to promote the fact that Robinsons was being served at KFC during the two weeks the tournament was on.

Marketing agency Savvy put up a huge display of Pong, the arcade game, in the window of the KFC Wimbledon Broadway restaurant. Fans on their way to the tennis could interact with the screen, where users were able to activate the game with a simple tap on the window. The touchscreen technology then allowed each player to control their pong paddles.

It proved effective in driving footfall directly to the store, as well as creating a strong brand awareness for both companies. At times when no one was playing the game, the screen returns to an advertisement which illustrates the fact that Robinsons drinks are available in store. A clever use of space, to say the least.

It wasn’t the first time either that Robinsons had used the Wimbledon Championships to interact with fans. In 2015 to celebrate “80 years at Wimbledon”, Robinsons launched “The Great Robinson’s Ball Hunt”.

Followers on Twitter were asked to discover locations of giant tennis balls hidden across the country for a chance to win prizes, including tickets to The Championships.

Every day, a series of clues were revealed on the company’s Twitter channel encouraging others to join in. The hunt Former British number one tennis player, Tim Henman, became the ‘face’ of the campaign and presented clues on Twitter while asking the public to find the balls and tweet a picture of them when they did.

A great way to build a sense of excitement ahead of the tournament. You could say Robinsons “served up an ace” with this interactive campaign.


Six ways your brand can capitalise on the sporting calendar