A NatWest TV advertising campaign which focuses on the cost-saving benefits of giving up gym membership in favour of ‘running down the street’, has been withdrawn following lobbying by the fitness industry’s trade organisation, the FIA.
The Fitness Industry Association argued that the initiative “Money Sense” portrayed an incorrect impression of the cost and usage of gym membership and constituted a damaging attack on the fitness industry.
With over seven million members and 5700 facilities, the fitness industry contributes enormously to the level of physical activity in the UK by providing one million people every day with the safe facilities and professional service which allows them to be active.
In the context that obesity and lifestyle-related diseases are estimated to cost UK Plc £50 billion by 2050, NatWest’s approach was branded by the FIA as being thoroughly irresponsible.
The FIA works very closely with No 10, the DH, the DCMS and the DSCF and it was determined to ensure that their £275m ‘Change 4 Life’ campaign was not scuppered by what is considered to be a flippant advertisement which could also have had a serious impact on the health of the nation.
FIA Chairman Fred Turok wrote to the Chair and Directors of the RBS NatWest urging immediate reconsideration of the campaign and also sent letters to the Prime Minister and Secretaries of State.
The FIA were officially notified of the withdrawal of the offending advertisement in a letter to the Chairman, Fred Turok, by Alan Dickinson Chief Executive, RBS UK – NatWest’s parent company.
As a result, the FIA expressed the hope that what started as a rocky relationship will blossom into closer ties between the fitness industry and NatWest/RBS in 2009.
Valid argument or overreaction?