Media Finals for 24 Hour Fitness

Health club chain 24 Hour Fitness has reached the final round of its media planning and buying review. Its creative agency, Grey Worldwide, will slug it out with fellow San Francisco shop J. Walter Thompson and Carat North America in Los Angeles for the $8-10 million account.

The review was sparked by the impending closure of Los Angeles-based media incumbent Janik & Associates, said Linell Killus, svp of marketing for the Pleasanton, Calif.-based client. Janik lost its flagship account, media buying for department store chain The May Co., to Doner, Southfield, Mich., earlier this summer.

In the current review, the winning shop will display “good efficiencies, good planning and some creative ways to make the media work hard,” said Killus.

Founded in 1983, 24 Hour Fitness operates 413 clubs in the U.S., Europe and Asia under various brand names, including 24 Hour Fitness, 24 Hour Sport Clubs, Sporting Club and Hart’s Athletic Clubs. In the U.S., the company has 280 fitness centers.

Janik has handled the company’s media business for several years, but the creative account has been around the block. At one time, TBWA\Chiat\Day handled some creative projects for the advertiser, but the account eventually migrated in-house.

Grey won the creative assignment in March 1999 after several months of project work. Almost immediately, the company attracted a good deal of attention and controversy with a campaign featuring an ad with images of big-headed, bug-eyed aliens and the headline “When they come, they’ll eat the fat ones first.”

Members of the Bay Area’s local Association to Advance Fat Acceptance were less than amused, and staged a protest. Gregg Deguire / LFI