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Equinox demands fierce "commitment" in bold New Year ad campaign

There is no gentle encouragement here.

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During the early days of January, social media feeds are filled with optimistic, inspirational messages for the year ahead. In general, these are affirming in tone and seldom confrontational. Equinox pitches its advertising in a rather more provocative and uncompromising way.

This year’s January ad drive for the fitness company urges people to "Commit to Something" and a series of shots by fashion photographer Steven Klein depicts some deeply committed people.

While everyone pictured is seriously ripped, their commitments are not necessarily of the fitness kind. For example, if you’re going to have a cat, why not have a dozen? Or if cash is your thing, go the whole way and recline on a sofa, covered in greenbacks. The campaign is asking people to do something, anything, but to do it with dedication. Among the images, Bianca Van Damme, daughter of Jean-Claude, is shown passionately protesting, possibly for gender equality.

The most potentially controversial execution is a shot of actress and publishing heiress, Lydia Hearst, simultaneously breastfeeding two babies in a restaurant. Each version has the instruction, "Commit to Something" written across it and the brand’s tagline, "It’s not fitness. It’s life."

The campaign, created by ad agency Wieden + Kennedy New York, is not the first uncompromising marketing material the brand has produced. For 2015, photographer Rankin featured some unusual people, including a pig wrangler, in a series of billboard shots and in 2014 Robert Wyatt captured fantastically fit young people in some racy situations for a campaign entitled, "Equinox Made Me Do It."

"Commit to something," suggests that Equinox doesn’t care what people commit to as long as they commit to something but the company would probably prefer that it was a year’s membership to one of its gyms. Alongside the out-of-home, print and digital ads, the brand has produced a 30-second video, filmed in the Flatiron district of New York, at dawn on New Year’s Day, demonstrating the dedication of one member who was there, ready to train, as the gym opened. Further online episodes showing real-life examples of commitment will follow throughout 2016.

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