How Virgin Active Australia introduced its rebrand to staff

Virgin Active Australia had only six weeks to pull off two brand launch events in two cities – for 500 employees across six clubs. This is what happened…

Virgin Active Australia used the recent Virgin Active global rebrand to excite staff and kick-start its expansion. With a mission to ‘make exercise irresistible’, it needed a launch event that was fit for purpose.

Virgin Active Australia has close to 500 staff across just six clubs in Sydney and Melbourne, and a small central team to execute some lofty ideas. Keeping it simple but making the biggest impact were key priorities. 

Armed with only a handful of new brand collateral items, the team decided to launch the new brand and their plans for change and growth to all staff before the end of 2016 so it would disrupt their peak trading period in January as little as possible. All their staff received an invitation to a ‘special unveiling’ at a warehouse on the outskirts of each city. They were to dress in active wear and be ready at 2pm, when clubs would close and they would be taken to the event.

The new brand values were alluded to by fun items that were handed out, such as rulers, magnifying glasses, heart-shaped chocolates, red lipstick, Rubik’s Cubes and Turkish delights. (We’ll leave you to ponder those.)

On the bus, staff were given a marker pen and a bag to put their shoes, phone and loose items in. Greeted by Central Management, they were corralled into a ‘holding area’. Head of Brand and Marketing, Anton Brown, welcomed everyone and revealed a new brand sizzle-reel followed by a video curated for the event, in which staff had unknowingly described each brand value and what it meant to them. The montage of people talking about the new values was a surprise to everyone, and a great moment to reflect on their colleagues’ responses.

They were all then invited to move into a huge warehouse hidden behind a curtain. Lots of oohs and aahs could be heard as everyone entered the massive space, which had 300 lululemon yoga mats meticulously laid out facing a stage. National Group Exercise Manager, Mark Seeto, welcomed everyone and explained the new group exercise focus, kicking off in Q1 with a new yoga product launch. Staff were then guided through an amazing 30-minute DJ-led music-and-light-filled yoga experience – a taster of Virgin Active’s new yoga proposition. 

After finishing their yoga session with meditation, everyone relaxed on their yoga mats while Virgin Active Australia Managing Director, Scott Hood, took them through what the new brand launch meant for them and the business. He explained that new club formats, focusing primarily on group exercise, would enable the company to grow quickly over the next three to five years.

Next came an introduction to the implications of the new brand work, including a new uniform, in partnership with lululemon, and a new employee value proposition: monthly rewards for those who met the club member engagement ‘go together’ goal. 

Then it was back to their respective clubs and time to ‘make exercise irresistible’.


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