Henderson and Gold’s Gym: ‘It Was Doomed’

ATLANTA Gold’s Gym International and Henderson Advertising have parted ways, the agency confirmed.

Dentsu’s Colby & Partners in Santa Monica, Calif., won the account after pitching the creative and media business last week against McCarthy Mambro Bertino of Marina del Rey, Calif.

The account shift comes only five months after the client awarded its account to Henderson, an independent shop in Greenville, S.C., that has worked with Gold’s Gym franchisees in South Carolina. Colby had been a finalist in that review [Adweek.com, June 2].

While Gold’s ad budget has been just over $1 million, the client this summer began soliciting individual gym owners for increased contributions for the national ad fund. The individual gyms collectively spend about $15-20 million to advertise their clubs.

The increased commitments from franchises prompted parent company, Brockway Moran, a private investment group, to become more involved in advertising decisions, said one source.

“It turned into a mess, one of those situations where the marketing department was asking for one direction, franchisees for another and the investors for yet another,” said Henderson executive creative director Andy Mendelsohn. “No one could agree. It was doomed.”

Mendelsohn said another part of the problem revolved around the gym’s positioning. “They wanted to become much more of a family-oriented everyday kind of gym,” he said. “It appeared as if they were willing to walk away from the equity that’s made Gold’s Gym special.”

Henderson has not broken any ads for Gold’s yet, but as many as 20 campaigns were conceived. Because the agency continues to work with several South Carolina franchisees, some of these efforts may be produced.

One features the gym’s logo, a graphic figure of a body builder, which Mendelsohn said could be used as a spokesperson: “He would act as the conscience … [urging] people to get exercise, to walk the stairs instead of taking the elevator, to not big-size lunch … everyday things that would come from a position that Gold’s [already] owns.”

The client in Venice, Calif., did not return calls seeking comment.