Gymshark was founded by Ben Francis in 2012 when he was 19 and has since become theUK’s fastest growing business. It has had global success among the 16-25 year old category through its influencer marketing and product placement strategies. However, it had never told the business story until it started working with 3 Monkeys Zeno, and that would prove to be a distinct challenge. Gymshark tasked us with telling its corporate brand story, positioning it as a robust, mature organisation, but, crucially, retaining the company ethos while doing so. The challenge was amplified when, In August 2020, Gymshark announced its first ever round of funding – until then it had been wholly privately owned. The funding total gave Gymshark “Unicorn” status (more than a $1b valuation) making it only the 24th British unicorn and only the second to achieve it with no prior funding.
Gymshark prides itself on not doing things like any other brands – and the same applies to comms. Hype was surrounding this burgeoning brand when we first started working together and we were receiving a number of PR requests that many brands would kill for. However, we didn’t want to give away the secret sauce and did want to keep people wanting more. As such, we deployed a “stealth strategy” – deliberately not seeking earned media coverage about the brand to create more intrigue and interest. We chose to only do two interviews in the two year run up to August 2020 – The Boss on BBC Online and The Big Interview in the Sunday Times to demonstrate the aforementioned robustness and maturity of Gymshark.
When the deal to bring General Atlantic on board was signed, we flipped the strategy and immediately went far and wide to tell the story of this hugely successful UK brand (we spoke to the FT less than ten minutes after Ben Francis had put pen to paper). Having been kept at bay for so long, this approach both surprised and delighted the UK and Global media and they relished the opportunity to speak to this pretty secretive brand.
The response was phenomenal with every national, business and broadcast outlet wanting to speak to Ben. We saw full page coverage in the FT, Sunday Times, Times, Economist among others and appearances on Sky News and ITV. Daryl Sparey, the Chair of the CIPR, tweeted “Right, who does @Gymshark’s PR, because you have ruddy knocked it out of the park today! They are EVERYWHERE”
Since then, we have also secured a five page interview with the Times Magazine and Forbes’ cover story of the day – again, being very selective in we told the story too . In a very bleak time, especially for retail, we used this announcement to position Gymshark as a beacon of light for the UK economy and Ben as one of the brightest entrepreneurs in the land.
Keeping pace with an explosive brand
Gymshark announced its first-ever round of funding – until then it had been wholly privately owned. The funding total gave Gymshark “Unicorn” status (more than a $1b valuation) making it only the 24th British unicorn.