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Gaining attention and memberships for a local chapter of a national nonprofit chain.


With brand recognition and advertising support from their national organization, the YMCA Chapter of Buffalo Niagara had never advertised on a local level before. In 2014, sales were declining and the organization was losing business to new fitness centers and popular gym franchises in town. Our challenge was to increase new memberships and boost camp enrollments.


A deeper look into the issue revealed that, with little to no advertising surrounding the YMCA Buffalo Niagara, it was known to many as simply another gym. The organization was missing the mark in letting audiences know they offered various camps and programs for children, in addition to all the fitness amenities found at other gyms. We got to work, creating a unique identity for the local chapter, while adhering to existing brand standards from the national organization. Using a variety of tactics, including billboards, radio spots, digital banner ads and a new website, we launched a unique campaign built around the call to action to “Discover the Y in You” encouraging potential members to look inside themselves and the Y to explore something new. Emotionally charged messages highlighted the various amenities offered by the local chapter and sparked a deeper connection with the community icon.


The new website integrated seamlessly with the YMCA’s existing internal system, allowing them to track new memberships and website traffic. Since the launch, the first-time visitors to the site increased 11% and the bounce rate decreased 25%. The campaign was extremely successful at improving memberships and camp enrollment, with an increase from 2,746 in 2014 to 5,833 in 2015. In addition, overall awareness of YMCA Buffalo Niagara’s programs increased significantly after receiving a 66% radio reach, nearly 1 million online impressions and an estimated 4 million outdoor impressions.