Bravo Fit’s Kindness Car Wins National Public Relations Prizes

An outreach initiative launched for Bravo Fit’s Wasilla club presale is garnering attention outside the Alaska town. The franchisee group’s Kindness Car was recently recognized at the annual Public Relations Society of America Silver Anvil Awards, the “Oscars of Public Relations.”

Over 600 campaigns were submitted for recognition, with Bravo Fit’s Kindness Car winning a prestigious Silver Anvil in the category “Reputation/Brand Management for Companies with Sales up to $50 Million.” In addition, the Kindness Car also earned an Award of Excellence in the Business Services category and took the top prize in voting by PRSA members, winning the Audience Choice award for Companies with Sales up to $50 Million.

In developing the strategy for the Wasilla presale, the Bravo Fit team wanted to undertake an initiative that would create authentic opportunities for their target audiences to interact with the PF® brand through experiences, giveaways and challenges. “Our strategy was to create personal, shareable moments and connections through various tactics that focused on PF’s reputation for inclusivity, positivity and kindness,” said Bravo Fit Marketing Manager Merrill Richmond.

“We have found that in small communities, advertising and PR, especially during the presale period, act as a killer combo to launch a club,” said Bravo Fit Chief Growth Officer Dan Afrasiabi. “Additionally, the use of local PR firms to extend our efforts was very important to help us execute our hyper-local strategy.”

Richmond explained that the flagship tactic was the Kindness Car, which is a vehicle wrapped in Planet Fitness® branding with drivers sporting logoed shirts. These drivers were given the important task of spreading random acts of kindness through the community. “We used our insights to build a strategy that leveraged local relationships and positioned each club as a neighbor who cares about fellow residents’ success,” Richmond said.

Some of the acts of kindness undertaken included having team members leave positive messages on windshields; deliver food to first responders and educators; surprise passersby with gift certificates to car washes, coffee shops and other local businesses; bring treats to local business offices; and more. Richmond emphasized that the drivers’ role was to spread positivity on behalf of the local PF gyms, not sell memberships. Small cards that included a fun message and a hashtag so recipients could easily share on social media were given out during each interaction.

The car was also featured at local community events and celebrations, such as Winter Wonderland and Fireworks Extravaganza, which each attracted thousands of participants.

The group implemented relevant and timely hooks for media pitches that matched the company’s overall brand messaging, such as the creation of kindness-related events, to draw interest in unique and personal connections. An example is when the Kindness Car was used on National Kindness Day to deliver a significant donation to two local families in need as part of a surprise reveal event. The group partnered with a middle school wrestling team to identify two families who had gone above and beyond to show kindness, and the parents were invited to what they thought was a wrestling award celebration for their kids. “Instead, they were honored for their acts of kindness with letters read aloud by their children, a giant check and lifetime gym memberships,” Richmond said.

Richmond explained that the Kindness Car received an incredible response. “In addition to countless smiles, and even some tears of joy, we received numerous online and in-person comments about how refreshing it was to see a business owner engage so frequently, openly and directly with the community.”

Winning top honors at the Silver Anvils was a peak of professional recognition for Bravo Fit. Earlier in the year, the PRSA’s Alaska Chapter hosted its Aurora Awards to recognize top-notch professional public relations performances and exemplary work in the field across the state. “We entered the Eagle River and Wasilla, Alaska, opening campaign in this competition and earned a first-place award in our region,” Richmond said proudly. “With the feedback received throughout the event and the judges’ comments at the Aurora Awards, we had a feeling that their campaign would be a strong contender in the national PRSA Silver Anvil competition, which recognizes outstanding public relations programs at the national level.”

COVID might have put a damper on some community outreach initiatives the group had planned, but they are still finding ways to make a difference. “Although COVID has forced us to scale back our plans to sponsor community events like concerts and outdoor movies in the park, we continue to support local high schools, local teams and other community groups, including the Boys & Girls Clubs, with fundraisers and membership donations,” Richmond said. “We’re looking forward to a ‘return to normal’ so we can get back out there with our neighbors!”