Blast From the Past: At-Home Fitness Marketing

Blast From the Past: At-Home Fitness Marketing

While the coronavirus outbreak has forced us to put our gym memberships on hold, people are transforming their living rooms into gyms. It’s one of the few ways we can get a sweat session in while social distancing.

But I can’t help but chuckle over the fact that seemingly overnight, at-home fitness is back. There is such high demand that dumbbells and other equipment is sold out everywhere.

at-home fitness Gyms sold out everywhere

But I bet Peloton owners are sitting pretty.


At-Home Fitness Commercial Roundup

There have been many at-home fitness trends that have come and go, but the best part about these fads were the commercials.

From the cheesy infomercials, to the flamboyant Spandex leotards, at-home fitness advertisements were unforgettable.

While we’re all cooped up at home, here are some of the fitness trends you probably wish you invested in right about now:


Total Gym (2003)

Considering that Chuck Norris backed the Total Gym, I’m surprised there wasn’t one in every home. When Chuck Norris tells you to buy something, you do it. And supermodel Christie Brinkley is just as influential.

I remember watching this infomercial late at night when there was nothing else on TV — before we had the luxury to choose a different show to watch on Netflix or Hulu.


Thigh Master (1991)

I’m pretty sure every woman from the ’70s to the ’90s wanted to look like Suzanne Somers. And with her Thigh Master, you could at least have gams like hers!


Shake Weight (2009)

The Shake Weight was pretty much the laughing stock of at-home fitness products. Their original 2009 infomercial went viral and amassed over 4 million views. An MSNBC commented saying it was “slightly pornographic.”

Sex sells? In 2010, the Shake Weight generated over $40 million in sales.

Gazelle Glider (2001)

If you thought the Shake Weight commercial was uncomfortable, here’s a clip to remind you just how handsy Tony Little was when demonstrating the Gazelle Glider.

He’s still actively promoting this product and has kept his signature ponytail.

Darrin’s Dance Grooves (2001)

Many families in the 90’s may not have had room in their homes for a Total Gym or Gazelle, but every household definitely had a VCR! That was the only piece of equipment you needed to watch Darrin’s Dance Grooves.

Darrin Henson was the choreographer behind some of our favorite Backstreet Boys, *NSYNC, and Britney Spears music videos. He won an MTV VMA in 2000 for his Bye Bye Bye choreography, which he teaches on Darrin’s Dance Grooves. Learning a dance was a fun way to born some calories way before TikTok made it cool.

Fun fact: Sportscaster Erin Andrews is featured in the infomercial before she was famous at the 44 second mark.


Bowflex (1997)

All I remember about the Bowflex commercials was just how absolutely ripped everybody was. I think the results they showed were too good to be true.

ABslide (2001)

I watched this commercial thinking two things:

  1. That actually looks fun!
  2. If I use this, will I get abs like Britney Spears?


Tae Bo (1998)

Billy Blanks made you feel like you could do anything! Here’s a preview of one of his workouts — I’m sweating just looking at it.


Buns of Steel (1997?)

To this day, I love me some step aerobics. Not to mention, steppers seem to be the only piece of equipment not sold out on Amazon.

And you can also get your copy of the Buns of Steel on DVD. Did I just make your quarantine that much better?


Speaking of Buns of Steel, I first heard of this program after watching this scene from Clueless:

And in case all of these clips weren’t enough inspiration to get you up and moving, here’s the “Go For It” music video from Saved By the Bell:

Fitness and Social Distancing

How are you staying active during quarantine? If you have one of these pieces of equipment lying around, brush the dust off. And if you still have a VCR, go find that box of VHS tapes in your closet.

Until we’re able to get back to normal, let’s workout like it’s 1999!

READ MORE: The Fool-Proof Content Marketing Formula Inspired by SoulCycle

Aviation Gin and Pop Culture Marketing Mastery

Aviation Gin and Pop Culture Marketing Mastery

Ryan Reynolds is certainly a successful fixture in popular culture. You may love him for his movies, his looks, or his charm, but I love him for something more: his creative genius.

aviation gin commercial

In February 2018, Ryan (yes, I’ve decided to affectionately call him by just his first name) acquired a stake in the liquor brand, Aviation American Gin. Alongside a small but mighty marketing team, he has helped take the company to new heights with some of the most clever advertising and social media campaigns we’ve seen in a long time.

Who could forget their incredibly swift move when they hired the infamous Peloton wife for a commercial?


But the brilliant marketing hasn’t stopped there. Fast Company named Aviation Gin one of the most innovative brands of 2020, in large part to their quick responses to pop culture moments.

Marketing Aviation Gin: From the People Behind the Brand

On the latest episode of the Making the Brand podcast, I had the pleasure of chatting with Adrian Molina, the senior brand manager behind Aviation Gin, and social media expert and professor, Dr. Karen Freberg.

It turns out that other companies should be taking notes on what Aviation Gin is doing. So pour yourself a negroni (Ryan’s favorite drink!) and listen in to hear the method to their madness.


P.S. Go Follow 🙂

Aviation Gin @aviationgin
Dr. Karen Freberg @kfreberg
Adrian Molina @theadrianmolina

And not like he needs the followers but, follow Ryan Reynolds! @vancityreynolds

and subscribe to the Making the Brand podcast!


6 Reasons to Use Pop Culture in Your Social Media Strategy

6 Reasons to Use Pop Culture in Your Social Media Strategy

Let’s go back to one of my favorite eras: the late ’90s.

Imagine you’re surfing Internet Explorer on your dial-up connection, minding your own business as you research fansites, games, and chatrooms. Life is good.

Then suddenly, you’re assaulted by a flurry of pop-up ads coming from every corner of your screen, flashing sales and discounts for who-knows-what in your face.

You quickly try to click the X, but the stupid ad thinks it’s funny and moves across the screen as you hover.


I’m glad those days are over, but I’m afraid history is starting to repeat itself.

In the age of social media, many brands still have trouble adapting to the type of content their audiences expect and actually want.

With traditional media, like brochures, radio spots, billboards, or commercials, brands had one shot to get their message across. Their time, space, and budget was limited, so their marketing was straightforward and promotional. Its only goal was to make sure your audience knew about your company, products, and services.

This is pretty much the complete opposite of how social media works. We’ve said it time and time again — social media is not the place to plaster your digital fliers. It’s a place to be social.

Remember, social media started as a place for people to connect with friends and family. If you want your audience to add your brand to their feeds and social circles, you have to fit in and be a brand worth following. You won’t accomplish this if all of your content is promotional.

Instead, your audience seeks a brand personality that is entertaining, helpful, and relatable.


Popular Culture = Trending Topics

So if brands shouldn’t constantly talk about themselves, what else is there to say?

That’s where pop culture and trending topics come in.

If something is trending, that means people are talking about it. We’re tagging our friends, retweeting to our followers, or contributing original content of our own.

Well, as a brand, you want to pull up a chair at the proverbial dinner party. You need to be where the people are.

Thanks to social media, brands can join the conversation and share points-of-view on trending topics surrounding things like:

  • Music
  • Sports
  • Movies
  • Television
  • Celebrity news
  • Holidays
  • Cultural moments
  • Viral trends, challenges, and memes

Again, all of the above are topics that brands probably wouldn’t waste time discussing on traditional media. But since social media is an ongoing conversation in real-time, it creates countless engagement opportunities.

6 Reasons to Use Pop Culture in Your Social Media Strategy

I don’t advise brands to brush up on popular culture or trending topics just because it’s fun to chime in with a cheeky meme, remark about celebrity news, or contribute to a viral dance challenge. I do it because this approach is one of your strongest marketing strategies.

Here are the benefits of incorporating popular culture into your social media content:

1. It humanizes your brand. You don’t want your audience to see you as a rigid company up in their corporate ivory towers counting stacks of cash. You want to demonstrate that you have a personality and multiple dimensions.

Here’s a tweet from lululemon that lets their audience know that despite being an activewear company, they too, enjoy a lazy day.


2. You’ll build relationships. You know that feeling when you find out you have something in common with someone and you immediately hit it off? Brands and their potential customers can recreate this spark. Demonstrate a shared interest in what your audience loves, and they’ll feel more connected to the brand.

Popular grocery store chain, Publix, makes it clear just how much they love pets, too. How can you not bond with this brand over these adorable photos on #LoveYourPetDay?


3. It challenges you to know your audience better. Choosing trending topics to contribute to requires you to understand your customers beyond demographics. You need to know their lifestyle, including the TV shows they watch, the movies they like, or the places they frequent.

Here’s a tweet from Tarte Cosmetics, which comments on two shows that are popular among their target audience. Notice that the post has nothing to do with their makeup products.


4. Your content is more likely to gain traffic. The goal is to quickly capitalize on a trend as its gaining traction online. You want to post while the topic is still relevant in order to pique interest at the right time. Author and viral marketing expert, Jonah Berger, says what is top-of-mind is tip-of-tongue.

There’s no better time for the TODAY show to share this article Jennifer Aniston’s cleaner margarita recipe than on #NationalMargaritaDay.


5. You can incorporate a soft sell. At the end of the day, we still have business goals, right? There are a number of ways to inconspicuously insert your products into pop culture moments.

Nail polish brand, OPI, masters the soft sell by tying their gorgeous nail colors into popular holidays. Here’s an Instagram post suggesting festive colors inspired by Mardi Gras.


6. It fills your content calendar. Add some variety to your content calendar by including pop culture moments. It’s not uncommon to see brands tweeting during the Super Bowl, award shows, or even amidst historic milestones. Who could forget this viral tweet from MoonPie during the 2017 solar eclipse?


Stay in the Know

There’s a lot of potential for brands in pop culture! If you want to take part in pop culture trends on social media, it’s imperative that you and your teams are constantly monitoring conversation. You don’t want to miss your big moment! Invest in social listening tools and be mindful of what is in the news. This approach will bring you closer to your audience than any heavy promotional strategy.


READ MORE: Every Social Media Platform Explained as a Friends Character

6 Steps to Turn Ordinary Customers into Passionate Groupies

6 Steps to Turn Ordinary Customers into Passionate Groupies

From Taylor Swift’s adoring “Swifties,” to Lady Gaga’s feisty “Little Monsters,” Justin Bieber’s dedicated “Beliebers,” and Beyonce’s fierce “Beyhive,” there are lots of passionate fan bases out there. My favorite has to be J.Lo’s sassy J.Lovers, or the new crowd of Lizzo’s unified “Lizzbians.”

But cutesy names aside, these music superstars have built a tribe of loyal supporters who will unconditionally stream their albums, buy their concert tickets, don their merchandise, and spread the love for years to come.

If brands want to grow their audiences, they should be singing from the same song sheet as these musicians.


Rather than always chasing down new leads, companies should strive to build a community of repeat customers who become enthusiastic brand ambassadors. By deepening their connection with the brand, they are more likely to come back, refer their friends, and market your company on your behalf. Yes, please!

This approach fosters something called social proof — a psychological phenomenon indicating that people are especially influenced by the actions of others. 

With this strategy, everybody wins! You spend more time nurturing your existing customers, thus making them happier with their brand experience. Your referred leads walk into the brand relationship with a higher level of trust, and more trust means more conversions.


How to Turn Your Customers into Loyal Fans

  • Personalize the experience. Whenever you can, demonstrate that you know your customers. Make notes in your CRM to help you keep track of their birthdays, special milestones, or life happenings.
  • Go beyond automation. Any brand can use their email automation system to trigger a happy birthday email. Make a lasting impression by sending a handwritten card with a small gift, or comping their order. Set aside a small budget called “surprise and delight” to cover cards, balloons, or gifted items. You will earn your money back 10x over simply through your customer’s enduring loyalty.
  • Remember your customer’s name, and use it often. Dale Carnegie, the author of the iconic book, How To Win Friends and Influence People, once said:“A person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” Address your customer by name every chance you get. It’s a small gesture that means a lot.
  • Put their name in lights. Any opportunity to feature your customer on a large scale will make them feel special. If you know they’re visiting your brick-and-mortar shop for the first time, write their name on a welcome sign. Feature their photo on social media or ask for a quote for a quick testimonial and tag them in your post.
  • Unify your audience with a branded hashtag. User-generated content is one of your most powerful social media tools to leverage. Add fuel to the fire by collecting all of your UGC via a branded hashtag. This gives your audience an easy mechanic to create a brand impression. Plus it will make them feel like they are part of something bigger. It creates a hangout space for members of your tribe to connect.  Bonus idea: create a Facebook Group vs. a Business Page.


Your Tribe is the Gift That Keeps on Giving

Community really is everything if you want to create a brand that spreads and lasts. Stop brainstorming ways to sell to your audience, and instead look for ways to serve them, Their appreciation will manifest as more loyalty, more referrals, and more sales.

Now go stream your favorite artist and make a list of how you can go the extra mile for your customers! Your superfans are out there waiting to cheer you on.


Are you ready to build a loyal customer base? Start by downloading my free empathy map template so you can REALLY get to know your audience.


4 Things TikTok Does Better than Every Social Media Platform

4 Things TikTok Does Better than Every Social Media Platform

If you didn’t make up dances with your friends, did you even have a childhood?

I have vivid memories of hosting sleepovers with my friends where we’d either choreograph our own dances to whatever was on the radio, or copy moves from the music videos we saw on TRL. 

The first song we had to master was of course, Everybody (Backstreet’s Back). Then we moved on to Oops, I Did it Again, I’m a Slave 4 U, Bye Bye Bye…. all iconic choreography.


Anyway, leave it to me to go down a fangirling rabbit hole… 

The reason I bring this is up is I wonder if my friends and I would have been viral sensations if we performed our dances in the age of TikTok — one of the newest and most downloaded social media apps. Its users are celebrities, brands, and especially young audiences. Generation Z dominate the platform — 60% of users are 16 to 24 years old.

Want TikTok Success? As Lady Gaga Would Say, Just Dance

Even if you don’t have TikTok, you’ve probably seen some of the viral dance challenge videos lighting up social media. Here’s a compilation of one of my favorites, #TheGitUpChallenge

Although the song and choreography for each dance are the same, the fun is watching how each person adds their own personality and flair. In #TheGitUpChallenge, you have kids dancing through the halls, men wearing Daisy Dukes, maintenance workers taking a dance break… There’s something special about the way TikTok unifies diverse audiences through the same dance. 

Celebrities are also jumping on the TikTok dance floor. Courteney Cox, Mark Cuban, Gordon Ramsay, and many others have done choreographed dances with their children. And one of my favorite people, Alfonso Ribeiro, challenged the world to do his iconic Carlton dance from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

As for me, any natural dance coordination I once had left my body the day I turned 30, so I think this tweet is a novel idea:

TikTok’s Bingeworthy Secret

You might be thinking… it really can’t be that simple. You can’t just make dance videos and expect your audience to fall in love with you.

And you’re right, there’s a bigger TikTok takeaway here.

Moreso than on any other platform, you can’t be boring on TikTok. If your content isn’t direct, entertaining, helpful, or interesting, you are irrelevant. This isn’t just my opinion, it’s the algorithm.

According to HypeBot, the TikTok algorithm uses machine learning to evaluate the quality of every video uploaded. Then the video is shown to a small set of users in between other popular videos. The algorithm measures engagement such as likes, shares and downloads, as well as how much of the video is actually watched. If the video performs well during this test, the algorithm is triggered to show it to more audiences. 

This strategic delivery system is why people are so addicted to TikTok right now. There’s little room to waste our time or attention on videos that don’t compel us. The For You Page hooks us in with tailored content that creates a seamless, binge-watching experience.

More than Dance Videos: Why We Love TikTok

From the outside looking in, TikTok might just seem like fun and games, but it deserves much more credit. It really sets the bar high for content creation. 

Here are some things I think TikTok does better than any other social media platform:

  1. It promotes creative expression. Finally, a platform that rewards you if fearlessly share your personality, quirks, and talents with the world! If you want to crush it on TikTok, you can’t hide behind your brand — you have to step out of your comfort zone. And that might mean dancing like everyone’s watching.

  2. The robust editing tools help your video shine. For starters, you have an entire library of songs and soundbites to dance to, lip sync over, or to complement your content and storyline. The recording options make it simple to record and layer clips, add transitions, text, filters, and trim your content all natively within the platform! Add a caption and some hashtags and you have a video that’s packed with personality.

  3. To succeed, you have to put your audience before yourself. Some of you might think that cute pictures of your dog or your lunch might be fun to share with friends on Instagram, but this type of content would fall flat on TikTok. Instead, ask yourself how you can make your content interesting for the viewer. Show us a funny video of your dog doing a trick (check out #TheSnootChallenge) or teach us a lunch recipe in an engaging way. 

  4. It’s just fun. I love Instagram, but sometimes there’s pressure to have professional photos or super polished branding. On TikTok, you don’t have to take yourself too seriously. Rather than feeling the pressure to impress your followers, strive to make them laugh, learn, or smile. The world needs a little more of that anyway!

So my challenge to you is to call your childhood friends and invite them over for rehearsal because it’s time to brush up on your dance moves!  If you haven’t already, download TikTok and start finding your voice. But above all else, just be yourself.


This Christmas Card Trend Can Help Your Marketing

This Christmas Card Trend Can Help Your Marketing

When is the appropriate time in your relationship to send a family Christmas card?

My husband and I love each other very much, but I’m pretty sure Christmas cards aren’t part of our holiday plans until we have children. 

For current parents though, there is a Christmas card trend that is making headlines. I first heard about it on the Today show. 

This year, parents have surrendered to their children. They’ve realized that capturing the perfect Christmas card photo is damn near impossible, so they’ve given up on prim and proper poses in festive sweaters and flannel. 

Instead, parents are sending cards with pictures of their kids sitting on Santa’s lap, kicking and screaming — similar to this photo of my brother and me circa 1992.

Why These Cards are a Christmas Hit

Just when you thought you were in full-on Christmas vacation mode, I’m reminding you that marketing lessons are always around us. It turns out there’s even a takeaway from the Christmas cards adorning your refrigerator. 

At the moment, I have several family Christmas cards on my fridge, and yes, they’re picture-perfect (thank you to those who sent them!). 

But if I received a card that captured a Santa-induced temper tantrum as pictured above, it would certainly stand out among the rest. 

To quote the prolific marketing author, Seth Godin (he’s the GOAT), a picture like this is considered a “purple cow.”

What is a Purple Cow?

In his 2003 book, Purple Cow, Godin suggests that if brands want to cut through the competition and combat advertising avoidance, you have to introduce something new, unique and remarkable – like a purple cow.

Godin goes on to break down the word “remarkable” in its simplest terms: worth remarking about.

There’s nothing new, unique, or remarkable about your typical Christmas card. We basically see the same scenes and poses from year to year. 

But a card with pictures of unruly kids on Santa’s lap is not only authentic and relatable, but it’s refreshingly original, hilarious, and a conversation starter. 

I wish I was a fly on the wall the moment that first set of parents decided to send their Christmas card that way. Can you imagine that conversation? At first, the idea probably seemed a little crazy. A Christmas card with children screaming instead of smiling? Blasphemy! But ultimately, it won hearts, inspired a trend, and made national news. 

This trend took off because those parents decided to take a risk — they were vulnerable enough to show their imperfect reality. They broke the tradition of Christmas cards as we know them and ended up creating something remarkable.

Purple Cow Examples

Good news — for your brand to be remarkable, you don’t need to have the biggest marketing budget or even the best products. You just have to be brave enough to take risks.

We see brands do this all the time. A notable example would be the Twitter account for Wendy’s. Rather than portraying their brand voice as polished and professional as most companies do, they chose to be sassy. As a result of their audacity, their tweets are remarkable.

Or how about the outdoor gear company REI? In 2015, they decided to close all of their retail stores on Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year. They instead encouraged their employees and customers to spend the day outside.

From the outside looking in (no pun intended), this may have seemed like a missed sales opportunity, but the risk was worth the reward. Not only did sales skyrocket, but REI received national media attention, increased engagement on social media, and immeasurable brand loyalty.

Purple Cows in Your Marketing

If you want your advertising to be effective, you need to define your purple cow. Before you spend a single marketing dollar, get clear on your big idea. Plan your creative strategy and determine how you will stand out. This starts with market research.  

To research your market, look at what the competition is doing. What are the trends in your category? Consider stereotypes, cultural norms, and current perceptions. 

Next, you need a keen understanding of your audience (do I sound like a broken record yet?). What are their values, behaviors, and frustrations? 

Then, take everything you found and turn it on its head. Or as Seth Godin would say, how can you challenge the status quo? 

    • Perfect Christmas cards are commonplace — not remarkable.
    • Professionally branded Twitter accounts are customary — not remarkable.
    • A big box store open on Black Friday is expected — not remarkable.

When you take a risk, you will cut through the competition, promote conversation, and fascinate your audience.

“You’re either remarkable or invisible. Make a choice.” -Seth Godin

Click here to buy Purple Cow on Amazon.

READ MORE: The Hidden Marketing Message in Taylor Swift’s Christmas Song “Christmas Tree Farm”

Need help with your audience research? Snap my empathy map template below so to help understand what messages will resonate most!