When the pandemic hit, New York City shut down. While most gyms closed, the YMCA of Greater NY shifted focus to community causes by expanding emergency housing and offering free childcare for frontline workers. Then, as we began to adapt to the new normal the Y had a huge challenge ahead - get people back into the gym, while competing with for-profit brands on nonprofit budgets. Our 2022-23 Membership Drive needed to not only restore the Y’s membership across its 23 locations in all 5 boroughs with past clients, but also build momentum towards its long-term goals of bringing in new audiences and presenting a differentiated, fresh brand proposition.
To address the challenge to get New Yorkers back into the gym and to give the Y a differentiated voice in the fitness category - Accompany Creative developed a campaign that celebrates the millions of reasons WHY New York loves the Y and invited the Y members to participate. In fact, we wanted to make them the campaign!
The ‘Y NYC Loves It’ campaign was born, focusing on the Y’s greatest assets - its members. The message is centered around the Y’s holistic approach to community-minded health and engaged actual members to showcase that the Y is much more than a gym to New Yorkers. It’s more than just weights and cardio equipment, and offers mental health assistance, financial help, daycare and summer camps, STEM classes for kids, help for immigrants, as well as the kinds of fitness amenities most gyms don’t offer such as swimming pools, basketball and pickleball courts. Most importantly, the Y has an authentic spirit to its reason for being and role in New York City, unlike the many glossy versions of “soul” that for-profit gyms manufacture as part of their brand image.
Shot on iPhones and Go-Pros by actual Y Members and featuring members and trainers at various Y’s throughout NYC’s 5 boroughs, the campaign highlights the many constituents of the Y that make it unlike anything else – from the pick-up basketball players and day campers to the swimmers, pickleballers, cardio class, and weight room loyalists. The TV spot celebrates how authentically ‘New York’ it is to join the Y. The centerpiece of the new work is a hero, high-energy, quick-cut :30s anthem spot featuring all the Y has to offer, supported by seven :15s individual spots highlighting unique offerings targeted to key audience segments (i.e. Childcare while you workout; Pickleball leagues in Staten Island; Pools in Manhattan, Pick-up Basketball in the Bronx, etc). The campaign blanketed New York City across various channels, including connected tv, paid social, direct mail postcards, and out of home in bus shelters and subway stations.
‘Y NYC Loves It’ is the Y’s strongest-performing membership campaign in years, helping to exceed both its 2023 gym membership and summer day-camp registration goals.
As a result of the campaign, the Y was able to grow their community particularly in boroughs where membership had previously been a challenge, increase summer camp registrations and draw in younger members across all five boroughs.
The campaign exceeded membership goals by 10%, and proved that when it comes to hitting commercial goals, bringing your mission forward pays off.