These Hilarious Faux Gym Ads Are Actually TV Promos

Pop's in-house spots will run before the Wednesday premiere of 'Let's Get Physical'

Let's Get Physical's Chris Diamantopoulos appears in a spot for the faux Metrix Fitness Clubs, run by his character.

Audiences watching the Pop cable network or following its social channels will find themselves exposed to a curiously large number of gym ads this week, but not because fitness brands are suddenly targeting the network’s viewers during resolution season. They’re faux (and hilarious) spots created by Pop itself to promote its new competitive aerobics comedy, Let’s Get Physical.

The series stars Matt Jones (who appeared in Breaking Bad as Badger, the friend of Aaron Paul’s Jesse). Jones portrays a slacker who reluctantly takes over his family’s rundown gym after his dad’s death; he’s forced to compete against the sleek, modern gym run by his high-school rival (Silicon Valley’s Chris Diamantopoulos) for the chance to win his father’s multimillion inheritance. The series debuts Wednesday after the Season 4 premiere of Schitt’s Creek.

As part of the marketing campaign for Let’s Get Physical, Pop’s new CMO Kent Rees created promos for both fictional gyms in the series: the mom-and-pop Fitness by Force (featuring Jones and Jane Seymour, who plays his mother) and the SoulCycle-like Metrix Fitness Club (with Diamantopoulos and AnnaLynne McCord, who plays his wife). This week, Pop will run the in-house spots—which even include feature phone numbers and websites for each gym—on its network and social platforms.

In the Fitness by Force spot, Seymour proudly proclaims, “We’re a real mom-and-pop shop.” Adds Jones, “Well, we were, until my dad died.” The gym’s slogan: “No judgments. Obviously.”

The Metrix Fitness Clubs spot, in comparison, is much more high-tech and aggressive, taking a page from SoulCycle’s book. “Technology has shaped our world. Now, let it shape your ass,” says Diamantopoulos.

The spots don’t mention Let’s Get Physical and offer “no larger context other than, ‘Why is that guy from Silicon Valley in a gym commercial?’” said Rees.

The inspiration for the quirky spots is derived from another cable network’s unique marketing style. “It’s an Adult Swim-y thing to do, letting people figure it out,” said Rees, who previously worked at Pivot and IFC. “Adult Swim has been a hugely influential network on me personally and professionally. I think IFC took a page from some of that stuff as well.”

Later this week, Pop will pay off the two spots by bringing together both “gyms” and all four series stars in a Let’s Get Physical promo.

As part of a new “aggressive Facebook strategy” for the network, said Rees, Pop has created Facebook pages for Fitness by Force and Metrix; it will also push out the spots via paid social buys. The Fitness by Force Facebook page features exercise routines from Jones’ Joe Force, which will be pushed out on Pop’s social accounts. Each gym also has its own website, which links to the Let’s Get Physical website.

Pop, which targets “modern grown-ups” in their 30s and 40s, is celebrating its third anniversary after rebuilding from TV Guide Network in 2015.

Let’s Get Physical’s plot—about people who met in the ’80s but are facing off in the present—“speaks a lot to our overall strategy” for the network, said Rees. “There’s something in that for the future of the brand: inspired by retro-ness, but takes place current day,” he added.

Beyond launching Let’s Get Physical, Rees will be working this year to “connect our content to our brand. It’s a problem that a lot of networks of our size face,” he said. For example, audiences are familiar with Schitt’s Creek, which returns on Wednesday for Season 4, but they don’t necessarily connect the comedy to Pop, given that prior seasons are available on Netflix.

Rees said that when he started in August, Pop’s ad sales chief Michael DuPont told him, “We have an audience that likes to watch television; help me make that an asset.” Going forward, Rees’ marketing goal is to “push the brand harder than it’s been pushed”—hence Rees appointing Miner & Co. Studio, led by Robert Miner, to conduct a segmentation and ethnography study of Pop’s audience.

“You end up with these mini-documentaries about your audiences. Robert goes to their houses and opens up their DVRs. It’s the most priceless way to understand your audience. I feel like once we have that, that’s when my job really starts,” said Rees.

Pop will reveal the results of that audience study during its upfront talks this spring. “It’s introducing greater depth to our audience than we’ve ever had before,” said Rees. “When you can bring those segments to life, the ad community really responds.”

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