‘A future-proofed way to reach people’: Why Hydrow rowing company is rethinking its media mix with OOH and video

Thanks to the pandemic, shoppers have given in-home fitness equipment a second look. And in a bid to get in front of more of those shoppers and boost brand awareness, connected fitness rowing company Hydrow is rethinking its media mix to include more out-of-home and video advertising. 

The Boston-based company’s marketing team has historically focused more on performance marketing, according to Gretchen Saegh-Fleming, Hydrow’s chief commercial officer. But as the fitness brand looks to take up a bigger share of the market, brand awareness channels like OOH, linear television and CTV have become more valuable.

“One of the biggest opportunities remains for us to get the word out about the brand and about the experience,” Saegh-Fleming said. “Like all marketers these days, we’re looking to expand into new audiences and new platforms.”

The recent strategy shift rolls out alongside a new brand campaign called “Feel the Hydrow High.” The video spot, credited to New York-based agency Mojo Supermarket, depicts a person seemingly gaining superpowers after a Hydrow rower workout. 

It’s what Saegh-Fleming calls the brand’s first substantial investment in brand awareness, leveraging linear and connected television, OOH and digital marketing options like search and paid social. It’s unclear exactly how those ad dollars are being spent as Saegh-Fleming declined to offer details around spend. 

From January through September of this year, Hydrow spent around $7.7 million on media, per Kantar. That number is slightly down from the $10.8 million spent on media during that same time period in 2020. Those numbers do not include social media spend as Kantar does not track those figures.

Per Saegh-Fleming, building brand awareness is top of mind for Hydrow right now. She said she expects the new media mix will provide that boost as well as contribute to robust holiday sales. “We’ve done some early tests. And we’ve been really, very pleasantly surprised by the engagement and the results,” she said, but did not provide further details when asked for them.

As the pandemic has ushered in a new wave of shopping habits, advertisers will need to utilize more touch points to meet audiences where they are, according to Claire Russell, head of media at Fitzco ad agency. 

Simply put, to boost brand awareness, Russell recommends moving back up the marketing funnel. As video advertising becomes more advanced, marrying targeting and measurement with storytelling, it’s becoming a more viable ad channel for historically programmatic marketers, she added.

“The dollars are always going to follow where usage and consumption are,” Russell said. “More and more people are cutting the cord. They’re watching via connected TV, so more ad dollars are going to move there.”

Looking ahead, Russell predicts more advertisers will spend more ad dollars on connected television. She calls it a “future-proofed way to reach people,” given its recent technological advances. 

Looking forward, the Hydrow marketing team says it’ll continue to experiment with its media mix, layering in Reddit, TikTok and even fitness apps. According to Saegh-Fleming, the new channels will play an increasingly bigger part in the brand’s media investment going forward.

“One of the great, exciting challenges as a modern-day marketer is this blend of art, science, analytics, and learning what campaign drives will help us continually evolve and optimize into our media mix,” she said.


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