Shaq Acts as Center Square for Fitness Club

SAN FRANCISCO NBA star Shaquille O’Neal stars in two new 24 Hour Fitness television spots that broke yesterday from Publicis & Hal Riney here.

For the first time, in this campaign, Publicis Groupe’s Riney is leveraging the celebrity athletes signed by the fitness club, according to an agency representative. The San Ramon, Calif.-based client also uses tennis pro Andre Agassi and bicycling champion Lance Armstrong in its advertising and promotions.

Both 30-second spots, “Retro” and “Customized,” use humor to show how the center of the Miami Heat would stand out at an average health club.

“Customized” features the 7-foot-1 O’Neal working out in a gym among average size members, only with massive hand weights, bench-pressing his trainer and riding a spinning bike so fast it generates sparks. “24 Hour Fitness, the perfect workout for athletes,” the voiceover says. “And everyone else.”

In “Retro,” men playing a pick-up basketball game ridicule O’Neal for his outdated workout clothes, which with short trunks and kneesocks, make him look like a player from 1977. “I didn’t know they made hot pants for men,” one player says as O’Neal walks out on to the court. “I’m so sexy, it hurts, baby,” O’Neal retorts.

The tagline remains “You to the power of 24” in both spots.

Riney has handled creative duties for 24 Hour Fitness since October 2003.

Campaign spending is undisclosed. The client spent $22 million on advertising in 2004, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.