Remember this? Les Mills International wins top gong

It’s 2009 and we’re in the depths of recession. Damn those bankers! But one company is booming. Les Mills International is quietly taking over the fitness world with its new suite of products under the Bodyvive brand. The new, baby-boomer fitness regime is sold to gyms around the world and includes music, routines, training, equipment and a marketing pack and hits $1.2 million in sales in just one year. But wait, is this a marketing story? Where are the ads?

Well, there are none. I recall the on the night we had nothing really to show on the screens as Les Mills’ staff danced to the stage to take the Fairfax Media Supreme Award.

So why did they win? Well, it was controversial. Air New Zealand was a front-runner to collect the big gong with its Cranial Tattoo campaign. But the Les Mills story was a powerful lesson in the best kind of marketing: a well-designed product for a well-understood market.

The Bodyvive programme was born in 2006 from insights into gyms’ aging membership. This led to a six-week intensive development programme, shaping the routines that were tested in real gyms. It was also reviewed by an international panel of experts.

The programme was developed into a prototype and formally tested in five countries. They even tested the pricing to ensure it was pitched correctly as a premium product.

That took a full year and by 2007 it was ready to launch to the global gym market. Included in the license was the programme, music, routines and manuals. But Les Mills also thought ahead to supply posters, a DM campaign, advertising materials and a PR plan.

The result: within the first year the programme had been licensed by 1500 clubs around the world.

Bodyvive was an export success, an insight-driven product, and a well-executed roll-out. Les Mills Internaitonal won the 2009 Fairfax Media Surpeme Award.

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