Instead of Just Ads, Equinox Made Crazy Luxe Products That Tell Their Own Story This New Year’s

W+K dreams up the Commitment Collection

So, you put on a few pounds over the holidays. What would it take to entice you to work off that festive flab at high-end fitness club Equinox?

How about a sweatsuit stitched together from surgical scrubs? Or cologne infused with the DNA of a marathoner? Or would lipstick made from the pages of the Washington Post put a smile on that kisser as you hit the treadmill?

Those unusual items are featured in “Commitment, a Collection by Equinox,” the chain’s latest provocative campaign from Wieden + Kennedy in New York. “Commitment” has been the brand’s watchword in its past unorthodox advertising, but this year’s push takes the concept to a whole new level, creating seven actual one-of-a-kind luxury goods which, we’re told, were “inspired by the passion and persistence of some of the most committed people and organizations on earth.”

You’d think gym advertising would show close-ups of taut abs and tight tushes, but maybe a little subversive social commentary will help lure bodies through the door.

Curated by stylist Mel Ottenberg, A-List designers such as Virgil Abloh, Shayne Oliver and Eckhaus Latta contributed to the project, and the items they created look pretty darn snazzy.

To be clear, these pieces are NOT for sale, though some will be auctioned off to raise funds for nonprofits.

Mostly, they serve as props in W+K’s wide-ranging promotional effort, which includes stylish monochrome images by Steven Klein, who has photographed campaigns for Calvin Klein, Dolce & Gabbana and Louis Vuitton. His work for the Equinox campaign riffs on classic fashion/luxe advertising tropes, and will grace digital, out-of-home and in-club media:

• The Truth Lipstick: produced, in part, from the pages of the Washington Post to reflect the organization’s commitment to press freedom.

• The Law Suit: made from the case files of attorney James Thornton, founder of nonprofit ClientEarth, symbolizing his commitment to solving global environmental challenges.

• Stonewall Stilettos: sculpted from remnants of the Stonewall Inn to honor activists fighting for LGBTQA rights.

• Shades of Humanity: sunglasses fashioned from the camera lens of Ruddy Roye, Instagram 2016 photographer of the year, who captures images that might otherwise go unseen.

• Eau De Blood, Sweat & Tears: a fragrance infused with the DNA of pioneering female athlete Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to compete in the Boston Marathon.

• The Scrubs Sweatsuit: made from the workwear of medical researchers on the front lines of the war against cancer.

And, most moving of all …

• The Real Camo Jacket: symbolizing The Heroes Project commitment to wounded veterans, this item includes materials donated by those who served in our armed forces, including ex-Marine Charlie Linville, who supplied a piece of the boot he was wearing when he stepped on an IED during a tour of Afghanistan and lost part of his leg. He later became the first combat-wounded veteran to scale Mt. Everest. A piece of the rope that helped him reach the summit is also part of the fabric.

“One of the things we got a lot of great feedback on with last year’s work were the stories revolving around real people,” W+K creative director Sean McLaughlin tells Adweek. “So, we starting asking, ‘Who best embodies commitment in a world where commitment is often lacking?’ Pretty soon, some contenders emerged. You’ve got outnumbered pro-bono lawyers. Doctors facing insurmountable odds. Journalists in the era of ‘fake news.’ Those fighting for gender and sexual equality.”

Putting together such a multifaceted and novel campaign presented plenty of challenges.

“Getting the original vinyl we had torn from the Stonewall benches to its destination so we could fabricate the stilettos turned out to be not so easy,” McLaughin says. “Our first try got lost by FedEx the day before production started. Ultimately, finding someone to decontaminate blood to put in perfume might be the only thing that was harder.”

“It was also quite amusing moving a model about on set wearing the Stonewall Stilettos,” adds Equinox executive creative director Elizabeth Nolan. “They have a 10-inch heel, and you basically have to be carried everywhere when you wear them. I think RuPaul would approve.”


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@DaveGian davegia@hotmail.com David Gianatasio is a longtime contributor to Adweek, where he has been a writer and editor for two decades. Previously serving as Adweek's New England bureau chief and web editor, he remains based in Boston.
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