- Tonal, known for its $2,995 at-home gym, is using a Super Bowl ad to make a point to women that they can use strength training equipment, too.
- The new campaign features tennis champion Serena Williams, who was also an early Tonal investor, and it looks to debunk the idea that women will get "very muscular" if they lift weights, said Gina Hardy, Tonal's SVP of brand and product marketing.
- The connected fitness category has seen rampant growth during the Covid pandemic, but the space has only gotten more competitive. Some companies, such as Peloton, have seen demand slow.
Tonal, known for its $2,995 at-home gym, is using a Super Bowl ad to make a point to women that they can use strength training equipment just like men.
A new campaign starring tennis champion Serena Williams, who was also an early Tonal investor, aims to debunk the idea that women will get "very muscular" if they lift heavy weights, said Gina Hardy, Tonal's senior vice president of brand and product marketing.
"Strength training skews male ... because women are afraid it's going to make them look a certain way," said Hardy. "We want to push that down, and make sure that women embrace [their strength]."
The 30-second Super Bowl spot — Tonal's first to air during the big game — shows Williams working out with Tonal's equipment while she says in voice-over: "Never be afraid of your strength, because your body is capable of amazing things. ... Own your strength, and see how far it takes you."
According to Hardy, Tonal's customer base is fairly evenly spread across genders, but it's the broader market for strength training that tends to reach more men than women.
The Super Bowl commercial is part of Tonal's "Strength Made Me" campaign, which celebrates women being strong both physically and mentally, the company said. Tonal's campaign will use digital spots over the coming months, featuring other female professional athletes including soccer player Lindsey Horan and swimmer Simone Manuel.
The campaign was created with help from marketing agency R/GA's New York office.
Tonal's Super Bowl ad comes after a period of rampant growth for the connected fitness category. The stay-at-home trends of the Covid pandemic helped to drive sales and awareness of fitness equipment. But the space has only gotten more competitive. Some companies, such as Peloton, are already beginning to see demand wane, as consumers choose to go back to gyms and in-person classes. Tonal doesn't disclose its revenue, since the business is privately held.
Data from M Science shows at-home fitness product sales rose 120% on a two-year basis in the United States in December. Still, that was the slowest rate of growth, on a two-year basis, observed since February 2020, according to the firm.
At the company level, M Science said Tonal and Hydrow, a rowing-machine maker, reported the strongest year-over-year unit sales in the final month of the year.
Businesses from beverage makers to travel agencies often purchase Super Bowl ad space to showcase new products or to raise awareness around a brand. Though National Football League viewership declined last year, advertisers are hard-pressed to find other events with such massive audiences.
NBC has been charging as much as $6.5 million for 30-second ad spots for this year's NFL championship game, which takes place on Sunday. Predictions are upbeat for this year's audience. On Tuesday, data analytics firm PredictHQ estimated the big game could reach a record audience.
By snagging a Super Bowl spot, Tonal is also focused on driving potential buyers to one of its brick-and-mortar locations where they can have a chance to try its wall-mounted machine in-person, Hardy said. Tonal has about a dozen showrooms, according to its website, in addition to a number of shop-in-shops at Nordstrom department stores.
"When people do demo our product, we have really high conversion, and so that will remain a focus for us," she said. "And most importantly, we know that our retention is very high too."
Tonal has raised about $450 million to date. Last March, Chief Executive Aly Orady told CNBC the business was preparing for an initial public offering, but it's unclear if and when it will proceed. A spokeswoman declined to comment on Tonal's IPO timeline.
Disclosure: Comcast owns NBCUniversal, the parent company of CNBC.