YMCA Advertising Campaign
The Executive Summary 3
Research and Strategies 4
Targeted Audiences 10
Creative: Video 14
Creative: Print 15
Appendix A: Secondary Research 20
Appendix B: Primary Research 23
Table of Contents
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In the spring of 2009, the advertising campaigns class at Washburn University began
developing an integrated campaign for the YMCA of Topeka. The initial goal was simply to
increase YMCA membership. To achieve our goal, it would be necessary to increase the
YMCA’s visibility to Topeka, and at the same time, to promote a more positive image of the
YMCA’s many contributions to the community. Research indicated two major publics that
the campaigns would need to target to most effectively achieve the goal: families and the
senior community. Both of these groups provide key opportunities that should be utilized
to reach our objectives.
The YMCA has always been a family-oriented organization. The atmosphere, spirit,
and core values of the YMCA are suited perfectly for families to thrive in, and therefore it is
only logical that families should be a major focus of the campaigns. By educating Topeka
families on the myriad of services the YMCA offers specifically for them, along with
showing them about the healthy and positive atmosphere that the YMCA can provide,
families are an obvious choice for the campaigns to concentrate their efforts on.
The YMCA also provides many services that would appeal to senior citizens.
Numerous methods of maintaining one’s health, a wide range of classes, the Silver Sneakers
program and other insurance packages, and an enjoyable social atmosphere are just a few of
benefits that seniors should be educated about. By establishing a positive relationship and
an open line of communication with the senior community, the campaigns would provide a
mutually beneficial relationship for all parties.
The goal of targeting these key publics is to generate more awareness of the
outstanding services that the YMCA has available for the citizens of Topeka. Through a
series of television and print advertisements, a multi-faceted public relations campaign, and
various small organizational changes within the YMCA as indicated by research, it is
believed that the campaigns will successfully increase YMCA membership by showing
Topeka that the YMCA is “more than just a gym.”
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Research and Strategy
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The YMCA of Topeka has been an integral part of the community for more than 100 years,
but it has recently transitioned to a forgotten institution. This campaign is designed to bring
a second life to this valuable community resource.
Research was an important step in obtaining the information needed to make an informed
decision about the execution of an advertising campaign for the three YMCA of Topeka
branches. The goal of the research was to answer the following questions:
Who are the current members of the YMCA?
What do members like and dislike about the YMCA that may be
affecting new membership?
Who are the best prospects to become new YMCA members?
To fully examine the questions, we used a combination of secondary and primary research
Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library (Database Software. Business Decision)
Business Decision is a software package that provides an analysis of any populated area.
The analysis categories include; tapestry (psychographic) segmentation area profile, market
profile, graphic profile, demographic and income profile, housing profile, census 2000
summary profile, and retail goods and services expenditures for. Business Decision was run
for four locations; Topeka City, 421 SW Van Buren Street, 1936 NW Tyler Street, and 3636
SW Chelsea Drive.
Topeka has a total population of 122,543 people with a median age of 36.3 years.
Top three tapestry segments are:
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Rustbelt Traditions which consists of mixed homes with middle incomes and single
families, they buy children’s and baby products, use credit unions and own/lease
domestic cars, 17,831 people in Topeka.
Home Town consists of mixed homes with lower middle income, these are single
families that play football and go fishing, 14,474 people in Topeka.
Midlife Junction consists of mixed homes with middle income and some college, they
are single families that go fishing, own U.S. savings bonds and attend tennis
matches. All three segments include single families in their segment analysis, 11,850
people in Topeka.
The fifth ranked segment Retirement Communities has a median age of 51.9 this
starts to skew the population older, which is made up of 6,395 people
Topeka as a whole has a consumer spending index of 79 for membership fees for
clubs spending an average of $90.66. This means Topeka is 21% below the national
average on spending for membership fees for clubs.
The area surrounding the Southwest YMCA branch has a consumer spending
index of 116 for membership fees for clubs spending on average $132.48. Meaning
the area surrounding the South West branch is spending 16% above the national
For more detailed information about the Business Decision findings, see Appendix
Primary Research Method #1
The YMCA Survey was sent to a database of 2100 people who use the YMCA facilities for
some purpose. The information was provided by the YMCA, and the questions were
developed by a previous research course. We received more than 350 responses to the
survey. Key facts received from the survey:
People appreciate the variety of fitness choices.
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The swimming pool is enjoyed by most members, especially the older community.
People observe and respect the children’s programs.
The staff and instructors are friendly and helpful.
The atmosphere is viewed as positive, friendly, and family-oriented.
The atmosphere is also referred to as homey and comfortable.
The majority of members react positively or neutrally toward the Christian ties.
Those who were surveyed were asked to define the YMCA in one word. While the
words “good” and “great” were often used, other prevalent words included:
A copy of the survey is in Appendix B along with a summary of the results.
For information about business problems that were discovered via the survey, see Appendix
Primary Research Method #2
Campaign members went to each of the three YMCA of Topeka locations and observed the
people who were using the facilities. They observed the staff, equipment and activities:
North location seemed like a big family, everyone knew everybody and
There is an older demographic around 9 in the morning, mostly because these
are retirees. This was observed at all three locations.
Around 5 p.m. you start to see the younger, family type demographic
showing up for various activities at the YMCA of Topeka.
Downtown branch felt cluttered with equipment, while the Southwest branch
was cluttered with members.
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Intercept Interviews Conducted at the Downtown YMCA, North YMCA, and Southwest
Primary Research Method #3
There were 158 intercept interviews conducted to gather knowledge and insight from
people using the YMCA during the various day and evening interviews. Campaign
members would politely ask people at the YMCA to answer a few questions.
More than 75% of interviewee’s were at the YMCA for an individual workout.
The leading ranked order items were:
value for the money spent
staff member service
variety of programs offered to individuals
More than 50% of population during the mid morning was 50 years of age or older.
Interviews with YMCA staff
Primary Research Method #4
Interviews were conducted to gather information and insight from current YMCA staff
members. The data collected indicated that there isn’t a clear vision shared by the YMCA
management and there appears to be no one shared goal. According to YMCA employees:
The average YMCA patrons are mostly seniors.
The biggest potential for new membership growth would be families with
children in the youth leagues.
The potential for new development would be to continue to focus on recruiting
The pros of the YMCA are the class opportunities, aquatics, family environment,
scholarships and a great place for health seekers.
The cons of the YMCA are the price of membership versus the competition
The things that need to be advertised more is the YMCA in general and the great
place for families and its sentimental values.
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The SWOT analysis is a strategic planning method that describes the internal (strengths and
weaknesses) and external (opportunities and threats) issues involved in a project.
three locations YMCA of Topeka has no definitive
pricing schedule for different income image
levels communication with members
friendly staff distribution of pool classes/free swim
comfortable atmosphere children free to roam the YMCA
national brand with values and
national focus on health cheaper competition
people are looking for value depressed economy
focus on family togetherness lack of awareness
Based on the data collected, we conclude that the YMCA is a forgotten piece of the Topeka
community. Even if people are aware of the YMCA, they do not know about the true value
of or the variety of services provided. A number of potential clients use one or more of the
YMCA services, but do not purchase a membership. The research also indicated that
services such as youth sports and indoor pools appeal to two target markets: families and
older community members.
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Target Audiences & Creative Strategy
Product: YMCA services & programs
Problem: YMCA needs to recreate awareness of the value of memberships,
because membership provides a variety of programs & amenities.
Opportunity: Showcase the different services and programs the YMCA offers.
The Y can remind audiences of its multi-faceted and valuable benefits.
Families – Those individuals that live within the same household that would qualify
for the YMCA family membership. This particularly targets families with children
and youth sports non-members.
Seniors – Those individuals that are 55+ and/or qualify as “baby boomers.” A special
focus can be those that may be retired and/or are in need of an exercise facility where
they fit socially in.
To recruit more families and seniors as full-fledged YMCA members.
The YMCA, more than just a gym.
The YMCA ads created set a fun tone for the audiences. Full of action, these ads
promote that the YMCA has more opportunity for its members than just a regular
gym membership. They showcase the YMCA community resource.
We chose to portray the senior community as we did because they need a facility
where they can feel a sense of community. The ads describe what aspects of the Y
seniors can, and do, take advantage of such as healthy lifestyle, value and social
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The YMCA ads show its audience that it is a good value for the money. Members
aren’t just paying for a gym fee. They are gaining many aspects that other gyms
don’t have. They receive more value for their money by having a chance to do their
own thing through YMCA leagues, the social community and physical health values.
Establish the YMCA as the community resource that offers much more than the traditional
gym facilities and programs; social and physical services and programs for seniors.
Depict the YMCA as a place where seniors can take care of their physical
and social needs. The Y offers a community atmosphere for seniors that
makes them feel at home and at ease. The Y is serious, but fun, no matter
what your age.
Senior 30 second ad
Ad content and tone – This ad shows a variety of activities that seniors can
participate in at the YMCA. From therapeutic swimming to relaxing in the hot
tub, there is more opportunity for seniors than a regular gym atmosphere
because it’s a part if their community and fits with their lifestyle. This is a place
for them to gain physical and social support. Good value for the money.
Establish the YMCA as a valuable community resource that offers a myriad of services and
products for all family members in one place.
Depict the YMCA as a place where all family members can do things together or
apart; good value for the family money. There is something for everyone at the
YMCA. Exercise classes and gym equipment for mom and dad, daycare and
games for the kids and pool and basketball courts for everyone. This is a one-
stop-shop for the whole family.
Mom & kids 30 second ad
Ad content and tone: This ad depicts a mother having some “me” time at the
Y. It depicts the Y as a place where she and her kids can all go and blow off
steam in different ways. She gets a chance to get in her own workout time and
the kids get to play in the children’s play area. The voice-over/testimonial gives
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the audience a personal family experience that all can relate to. This ad also
depicts the original message of more than just a gym.
Youth 30 second ad
Ad content and tone: This ad depicts kids taking advantage of all the
activities the Y has to offer. From ping pong to the gym, there are a variety of
activities that kids can participate in that you can’t find at a regular gym. The
voice-over/testimonial gives the audience a solid message of why the Y is a great
place for kids and what they like about it. It gives them someone to relate to.
This ad depicts the original message of more than just a gym.
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Creative Print Execution
1. General Ad Placement Ideas:
Public Benches: (think: Where the public transit stops.)
Topeka Transit: Ad placement on the side of public transportation busses
Conclusion: Placing ads in unusual places will increase exposure. Use of public
transportation is growing with the struggling economy so utilizing public transit for
advertisement seems a natural choice.
2. Social Media: (this targets families)
Facebook: Fan Page. Some YMCAs have great Fan Pages but no YMCA in
Kansas even has one. This would be an innovative and free approach for
the Kansas market.
Twitter: Growing popularity. Twitter is the “new” and hot form of social
media. The site itself has been around for a while, but its popularity has
taken off recently. Twitter allows for users to create short “tweets” or
messages posted on their page. The public can choose to “follow” the
YMCA on Twitter to keep up with the latest news. Twitter allows for free
and easy promotion for events.
Flikr: Flikr is a website that allows users to post photos and create online
content that is photo based. It is also free.
Spotted (local media): Users can create accounts with Spotted and upload
photos to the site.
Conclusion: Social Media is a new and exciting way to communicate with target audiences.
In most cases (all of the ones we have listed) using Social Media sites is free. The question is
no longer whether social media is allowing the public to communicate; rather the question is
now how organizations can become a part of the conversation.
3. Traditional Print Ads: (this targets mainly the older audience)
Traditional print ads to be placed in various publications in the area (Ex.
Capitol Journal, TMI, 785, Washburn Review, etc.)
Online ads: A series of online ads could be placed with these same
publications to compliment the traditional print ads.
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Doctors’ Offices/Rehab Information: This would be a take-away format.
(Example) If placed in a rehab office, the materials would focus on what
YMCA facilities and services customers can use for rehabilitation (like the
pool) to compliment the services the customer is receiving from that
Coupon placement in grocery store weekly publications, coupon books, etc.
Conclusion: Traditional outlets for advertisement are still effective and should not be
ignored. Rather than just running an ad in a local newspaper, complimenting it with an ad
placed on that publication’s website will reach more of the target audience. Strategically
placing ads, class schedules, and other pamphlets in medical offices will directly target the
Possible Supplemental Advertising
Along with the suggested traditional advertising and social media it could be helpful to
introduce some supplemental advertising:
Park benches/bus benches
Grocery store receipts
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Quotes from YMCA Patrons
“Downtown is very old, needs Updates.”
“I have a membership at Maximus and at the YMCA, I like it at the Y better, I don’t
feel like everybody’s staring at me, it’s not a meat market, that’s why I come with my
“Provides a clean, safe, wholesome place to exercise.”
“Pool hours should be more accommodating for open swim, and it should open at 5
“I would like to see staff in the free weights area and offer advice or support.”
“Fit Linxx should work at all branches not just one.”
“They keep the basketball gym open all day, flexible hours, friendly air, helpful
“Lower the fees for seniors.”
“I would definitely clean the place up, it needs to be sanitized.”
“Offers a wide variety of health benefits.”
“Provides activities for all ages.”
“Open Sunday morning, or at least noon.”
“Personally I like and support the YMCA Christian ties.”
“Good atmosphere and a variety of people.”
“Keep facilities ready to use.”
“New lockers downtown, larger lockers at Southwest.”
“More cardio equipment and weight lifting stations.”
“Open Kuehne branch at 5 am like downtown.”
“More classes at hours working people can attend.”
“Take the carpet out of the women’s locker room.”
“More conscientious attention to hot tub, AKA scrubbing algae off walls.”
“Have a free Tai Chi class for seniors.”
“Need cleaner showers, needs to be cooler in workout area.”
“They need security cameras outside the buildings.”
“Better janitorial services.”
“Supports the community while providing good service”
“Clean locker rooms like you did 1-2 years ago.”
“It looks like they are working to increase the variety of classes.”
“Improve the hours of operation and equipment.”
“The Y provides a first class facility at a reasonable cost.”
“Offers a wide variety of classes and times.”
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The following is a list of important business issues discussed by the survey respondents:
Lack of overall cleanliness in the facilities, especially the locker rooms
Swimming pool usage – i.e. blocking off the pool for small classes, not enough lanes,
allowing a local swim team to use the facilities
Unsupervised children on the equipment and in the locker rooms
Unfriendly, unproductive staff members
o The staff also lacks a uniform so it may cause problems with separating staff
Request for different membership packages – i.e. swimming pool only, punch-card
Weekend hours are too short
Class times are not always beneficial because of work schedules
High pricing schedule
Poorly maintained equipment
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Staff In-Depth Interviews
Joe Hodgson-health wellness and fitness director
Terri Steinman-after school and summer camp director
Question 1: Who is the average YMCA patron?
Joe: The patrons vary at the Southwest location. In the morning it is mostly seniors, evenings
you get a lot of families. Overall it is anyone who wants a comfortable place to work out.
Terri: The North branch has a lot of older people, the downtown branch gets a lot of
business people, and the Southwest branch varies.
Question 2: Where do you see the biggest potential for membership growth?
Joe: We should concentrate on retaining members and focus on recruiting new families and
seniors. The YMCA should target primarily seniors, since they are not very busy in the
morning, and families in the youth sports leagues who are not yet members.
Terri: There are a very high number of families with children in the youth leagues that are
not members even though they would get a discount on the leagues.
Question 3: Where do you see potential for development?
Joe: Just to keep focuses on recruiting families and seniors and have less of a focus on
Terri: There is room from growth and potential in better developing the preschool sports.
The primetime sports program could also be improved; however it is difficult to do so since
only children at the schools the YMCA are in can attend. The website could definitely be
Question 4: What are the pros of the YMCA?
Joe: All the class opportunities, aquatics, all the things to do, family environment,
scholarships, great place for health seekers
Terri: more offered aquatics, great place for families and the elderly.
Question 5: What are the cons of the YMCA?
Joe: The price of membership versus the competitions prices.
Terri: For singles-the families, lots of children; convenience- there is no location around the
Shawnee Heights area.
Question 6: What do you want to see advertised more?
Joe: That the YMCA is a great place for families, how the YMCA helps people.
Terri: The YMCA in general. There is not enough advertising due to the lack of funds.
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Dr. Barb DeSanto
Dr. Barb DeSanto, ARP, Fellow PRSA, has more than 15 years of teaching public relations
experience. Before her university teaching career, she worked in Florida tourism and county
government as a public information officer.
Andy Butler graduated from Jackson Heights High School in 2001. After debating and
changing several majors, he chose Mass Media. Andy enjoys playing music, and is a
member of the rock n’ roll sensation, Brass Knuckle Betty. He plans to graduate in December
Brady Butler is currently a junior majoring in mass media with an emphasis in advertising
and a minor in business. He works as a bartender here in Topeka, and has dreams of
owning his own sports bar. In his free time, Brady is also an avid guitar player.
Susanna Crandall is a sophomore majoring in electronic journalism with a minor in political
science. Aside from school, she works for Kansas Super Chief Credit Union (more than a
bank!), and spends time with her friends and family. Her favorite hobby is to play with her
nephew and go on vacations. Her future plans include taking over Oprah. If that doesn’t
work out, she would love to work as a news station reporter.
Matt Davis is a senior majoring in business management and marketing. He will be
graduating this May and returning to Kansas City to pursue a career in marketing.
Amy Horvath is currently a senior majoring in mass media with an emphasis in advertising
and a minor business. In her free time she does photography.
Paige is a mass media major with an emphasis in advertising and a minor in music. She was
born and raised in Topeka, and plans to stay here even after she gets married in August.
Paige will graduate in May of 2010 and hopes to find a job in graphic design until her and
her husband travel overseas to be long-term missionaries in China.
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Angie Marquart is a senior mass media major with an emphasis in advertising and
marketing. After completing her undergraduate education in December 2009, Angie plans
to work in advertising or sales before becoming an accounting executive.
Christine Nelson is a senior mass media major with a public relations emphasis and a minor
in sociology. She will graduate this August. She and her husband reside in Topeka. She
currently works at Dillard’s Department Store as the store secretary.
Carrie Pennewell is a mass media major with an emphasis in public relations and a minor in
Spanish. She plays soccer for the Washburn Lady Blue’s. Carrie is the current Vice President
of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. She is also the marketing coordinator for the
Spanish club on campus. Carrie plans to attend law school following the completion of her
Bob Platt is a senior at Washburn University majoring in mass media with an emphasis in
advertising. This semester he has been interning at WIBW Radio in the sales and marketing
department. Bob is getting married in September, and is moving to Kansas City to hopefully
pursue a career in marketing.
Tara is a senior majoring in mass media with emphases in public relations and media
writing/publishing and a minor in English. Tara has served as the Director of Operations for
the Campus Activities Board, Vice President II of Zeta Tau Alpha, and captain of the
Washburn University Dancing Blues and the nationally ranked Elite Nationals Dance Squad
at Washburn University. She is currently a legislative intern for State Representative Mike
Burgess, a Kansas Koyote Girl, and a Head Instructor for the National Dance Alliance. After
graduation, Tara plans for a career in media relations and strategic communication and to
attend graduate school.
Justin Shepard is a major in mass media with an emphasis in public relations and a minor in
psychology and English. He hopes to find a career that allows him to follow one of his
various passions, and give something back to the world.
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Brett Strathman is a senior who is graduating this spring with a degree in advertising and a
minor in business. He is originally from Baileyville, KS and has been at Washburn for three
years. He is moving to Kansas City this May where he accepted a position with Central
States Beverage Co. in the Marketing Department.
Bryan Stroth is currently a senior mass media major with an emphasis in advertising and a
minor in communications. He works part-time at Central National Bank after graduating he
plans on moving to Kansas City to work in advertising.
Jessica Zimlich is a junior mass media major with an emphasis in public relations. She grew
up in Topeka with her parents, two brothers, and two sisters. After she graduates, she plans
to move to Kansas City and pursue her career.
Jaycie is a senior at Washburn University. She is currently majoring in electronic media and
is interested in digital film editing or news reporting after graduating. Jaycie has a number
of academic awards, including: Phi Kappa Phi member, Lambda Pi Eta member, Society for
Collegiate Journalists member, President's Honor Roll and Sibberson Award Applicant. She
would eventually like to go back to graduate school to obtain her Master's Degree in fine
arts to teach at the collegiate level.
Justin is a lifelong resident of Topeka and is a student in electronic edia at Washburn
University. Looking forward to graduation in May 2010, Justin is eager to start a career in
News Journalism. When Justin is not spending time with his family, he enjoys participating
in independent film projects, as he is an aspiring film maker.
The Advertising Campaigns class, Mass Media Department and Washburn University
sincerely thank Charlie Lord, Jim Ogle, all Board Members and The YMCA of Topeka for
the opportunity to work on such an important and crucial undertaking. This semester long
project has been a unique opportunity and pleasure for both the students and faculty.
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