Edward Bourelly’s passion for purpose and inclusivity has guided his entire career, including his move to vp of marketing for Planet Fitness in 2019. From the first time he saw people who looked like him in commercials to working for brands he could genuinely relate to like Levi’s and Nike, Edward believes marketing should always start with what drives your consumer. And that’s exactly what Planet Fitness stands for with its inclusive approach to “Gymtimidation” and the ways it’s breaking down social inequities in health and fitness. Here, discover how Edward’s team has embraced more time at home to promote the fitness brand, why he’s focused on hyper-localization, and how the pandemic has provided the industry a “once-in-a-generation opportunity” to rethink its societal role.
How did you get to where you are today? Any noteworthy aha-moments along the way?
I was exposed to advertising and marketing at a very young age because I had a relative working at Burrell Advertising, which was one of the pioneering African-American agencies in the ’80s here in Chicago. I saw all of these amazing campaigns with stars like Michael Jordan and LL Cool J come to life and I had never experienced anything like that. People that looked like me in commercials. Not to mention that they were for major brands like Coca-Cola and McDonald’s.
“I had never experienced anything like that. People that looked like me in commercials. ”
I knew this was what I wanted to do with my career. I got my degree in Advertising at the University of Florida and then landed my first advertising agency position working with McDonald’s. It was one of the toughest jobs I ever had, but it taught me so much at the beginning of my career about analyzing data, consumer segmentation, hyper-localization, creativity and then pulling it all together working with franchisees and corporate executives.
After working on the agency side for several years, I received my MBA and then moved on the corporate brand side spending most of my career working for lifestyle brands like Levi’s, Nike, and New Era Cap. I always worked for brands that meant something to me and that I had a passion for as a consumer. It gave me an authentic perspective and the ability to carry it into the work I was doing as a true labor of love.
From your prior marketing experiences at top global brands including Nike, Taco Bell, Home Depot, New Era & Levi Strauss, what’s one thing you learned that you carry with you in your role today?
“Obsess over the people you are targeting and understand what drives them.”
Everything you do should always start with the consumer. The biggest mistake brands make is when they start with the product or service and then create a strategy around how to deliver it to market. At the end of the day, none of it matters if you aren’t fulfilling the needs of the consumer and if there aren’t enough people that really would want or care about it. Obsess over the people you are targeting and understand what drives them. Then you can develop amazing product/service propositions and campaigns that move people.
How do you see Planet Fitness evolving during and after the pandemic? Have you seen the role of fitness evolve?
The brand is definitely becoming more omnichannel delivering fitness to people anytime and anywhere while tapping into channels like we have never done before. Our corporate marketing team developed and quickly launched the “United We Move” campaign which are free twenty-minute live workouts on Facebook and YouTube to fulfill the immediate needs of people that were stuck home and needed to remain active while our clubs were closed. The fact they are free and people do not need to be members to participate goes to the heart of our values making fitness accessible to everyone.
“The spotlight is on health and fitness like never before our society has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to rethink its role.”
Due to the pandemic, the spotlight is on health and fitness like never before because our society has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to rethink its role. Making fitness a priority and shifting our focus on it being an imperative preventive measure to battling disease will yield the highest return improving everyone’s resilience, reducing health inequity, and promoting greater social and economic well-being.