Recently in our neighborhood there has been much discussion and debate about the current Equinox Fitness advertising campaign. The heated debates are sparked by the above ad and it’s placement at a street corner that is right beside one of the local public elementary schools on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Approximately 700+ kindergarten to 5th grade students (with their parents/caregivers) as well as middle school students from surrounding areas walk by the advertisement daily on their way to and from school. Much of the debate has been centred around the fact that many parents think that Equinox acted irresponsibly by advertising in an area that is clearly populated with school age children.
Manhattan is no stranger to this type of shock advertising. In fact you can see it all over the place. I first saw the Equinox ads in the Chelsea area. I thought that they were funny but that they were clearly targeting a different audience than myself. The ads did not make me want to run out and join their gym. At this point in my life I try and stay away from a gym whose ads seems to suggest a workout that involves casual sex, skimpy attire and obsession with body image. No thanks, I like to sweat, make-up free without any judgement on my abs or lack there of.
I guess this is why I am a little confused by Equinox’ choice to run their ad campaign so close to the school. What demographic is their brand trying to reach out to? Yes, this intersection is a high traffic area but instead of gaining positive attention from the advertising campaign, they have received the exact opposite effect due to the fact that parents have had an immediate visceral “momma/daddy” bear reaction to a depiction of sex on the street corner. I am not sure that this is a wise decision given the fact that there are a numerous fitness establishments to chose from that are within walking distance of the school including the JCC, Pure Yoga, Reebok and NYSC.
As a recent implant to NYC, I find the whole uproar around this ad campaign quite interesting to watch. After all, we are residents of Manhattan, the mecca of advertising. We are bombarded by billboards on a daily basis and well, we all know what Times Square looks like =). I am constantly explaining the meaning of different advertisements to my daughters as we walk down the street. Shock ads are everywhere and unless you intend to live in a bubble, I suggest that you use this type of advertising as a way to open discussion. We have to walk by more than one ad on the way to school that provokes some kind of question. Instead of trying to shelter my children from the ad, I explained why I thought the ad was inappropriate and we also discussed the way marketers target certain groups of people. To be honest, they became bored pretty fast and forgot about the whole thing when we saw a display for Valentine’s cupcakes.
We decided to live in this amazing city with it’s incredible opportunities as well as it’s pitfalls, one of them being the undeniable fact that in some ways NYC kids grow up a little bit faster. Yes, I think Equinox acted irresponsibly in placing a clearly sexual ad right beside an elementary school. But as parents, it is our responsibility to address these discussion-provoking opportunities not avoid them. That being said, I am really glad that my eight year old seemed oblivious to this ad (below) that popped up in the subway not long after we moved here. Some discussions can wait 😉 Have a great day, and alway remember to try and keep a sense of humor!