Why Gold’s Gym Lost to Cankles

In July, Gold’s Gym worked with their agency, McKinney, to launch saynotokankles.com, a "light-hearted" effort to generate buzz around "Cankle Awareness Month." For those who are not familiar this "˜aesthetic affliction’ that impacts thousands of woman (sure you’re not), the site does a great job at breaking down the highly scientific term as "the combination of "˜calf’ and "˜ankle.’ It occurs when the calf merges with an obese or swollen ankle, so that there is no clear demarcation between the two."

According to Brandweek.com, Gold’s Gym "CMO Lisa Zoellner said the chain is curious to see if the phrase, "˜Say no to cankles,’ minus the "˜Gold’s Gym’ branding, is enough to drive visitors to the web site." The advertising for the campaign apparently included display ads, Facebook applications, and an in-network TV campaign to support its 600 locations in 28 countries.

So, how much traffic was Gold’s Gym expecting to drive? No one really knows. During the month of July, saynotocankles.com had 12,080 unique visitors. In the month’s pre and post "Cankle Awareness Month," the site had around 1,300 UVs. I know, right now you’re thinking "Wow, all that hubbub and they were only able to stir up 12,000 UVs?!"

Taking a closer look at the data and we can see where the campaign fell short:

  • What display ads? Sure they had a cool looking, funny banner ads, but Saynotocankles.com has only received referrals from a handful of sites – google.com, facebook.com, yahoo.com, wsj.com, and salon.com. Considering the first 3 sites can’t even host display ads, I wonder where the ads were actually displayed. (referral report)
  • Over the past 90 days, saynotocankles.com received 2.44% of all search referrals from keywords containing the word "cankles." 9 other websites received a larger share of referrals. Squidoo.com (4.4M UVs in July) and urbandictionary.com (3.7M UVs in July) accounted for over 26% of all the search referrals. Maybe this should have been where they displayed ads?(keyword destination report)
  • Only 3 keywords drove traffic to saynotocankles.com — "cankles," "say no to cankles," and "cankle awareness month." How about some paid search ads? A quick search in Google’s keyword tool shows over 100 keywords with thousands of estimated monthly searches.
  • Saynotocankles.com received an average of 408 monthly search referrals… SEM anyone?

So, I guess the answer to Ms. Zoellner’s question about seeing if Say No To Cankles thrived without the brand power of Gold’s Gym is clear. Since the object of the campaign was drive traffic to the site via a search phrase, it’s amazing that they didn’t execute a paid search campaign. Results would undoubtedly have been much better. Also, if they incorporated their brand power or even put an ad for saynotocankles.com on goldsgym.com (280K UVs monthly), traffic to the site probably wouldn’t look like this:

This could have been an awesome campaign. It’s sad that it fell so short. Thoughts?

About Drew Fortin:
Drew is responsible for strategy and execution of marketing initiatives for Compete.com, including affiliate, blog, email, lead generation, paid search, and social media. Before Compete, Drew worked for office supply giant, Staples, Inc. where he had the opportunity to manage multiple online marketing channels for Staples.com, including affiliate, SEO/SEM, and comparison shopping engines. Follow Drew on Twitter or link him on LinkedIn.