The World May Judge You, But Planet Fitness Promises to Be the Exception

Hill Holliday launches first work for the gym brand

Judgment's a drag, especially for those of us being judged based on our appearance after adding a few pounds over the holiday season. We like pie! Is that so wrong?

Judgment in a gym setting can be worst of all, and Planet Fitness feels our pain.

Themed "The World Judges. We Don't," and urging its customers to "be free," the chain's first work from agency Hill Holliday dropped—along with a certain iconic, outsized, sparkly ball—during ABC's broadcast of Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve.

Celebrating Planet Fitness' 25th anniversary, the campaign's 60-second centerpiece spot below riffs on the brand's longstanding portrayal of itself as a "Judgment Free Zone." People, prospective pets and inanimate objects (including a bathroom scale and one exceptionally rude CPR dummy) serve as judges in a series of punchy vignettes:

Oh man, cats suck. Dogs never judge! (Enjoy that cage, Tabby.)

"They've done a great job disrupting the industry and we wanted to help evolve their image from the challenger they were to the leader they are," Hill Holliday senior vice president and creative director Khari Streeter tells AdFreak. "Nobody likes being judged, and that universal feeling led us to a clear positioning. From there, we just tried to have fun with it. We tried to exploit the tension in a funny way and the history of their tone encouraged us to use some cheek."

Caviar's Keith Schofield was tapped to direct because "he's got solid, funny work with big brands, like 'Come Alive' for Mountain Dew  and 'Bold on Bold on Bold' for Doritos," Streeter says. "'Countdown' was an ambitious idea, so we knew we wanted somebody who could balance the complex structure with the humor."

A thumbs-up emoji, similar to Planet's logo, also makes a prominent appearance. "That signifies you're OK and perfect just the way you are," Jessica Correa, the chain's senior vice president of marketing, tells Forbes.

A bunch of 15-second spots edited down from the scenarios in the minute-long "Countdown" commercial will soon launch across broadcast and cable TV. Check out a few below.

All in all, it's a cute campaign that effectively delivers the brand proposition without a lot of needless flab.

Now then, did somebody say there was pie?

@DaveGian 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.