Four agencies race for Zwift's global media as in-home fitness market hots up

Fitness firm looks to appoint global agency network as it focuses on brand-building.

Zwift: on hunt for media agency
Zwift: on hunt for media agency

Zwift, the at-home fitness software brand that is moving into hardware, is on the hunt for a global media agency.

The US company, which is seen as a rival to Peloton and has been valued at more than $1bn (£700m), handles performance marketing in-house and is looking to appoint a global media agency network as it focuses on brand-building.

Zwift has invited four agencies, Dentsu’s Carat, Omnicom’s PHD, WPP’s Wavemaker and Publicis Groupe’s Zenith, to participate in the pitch.

UK-based The Aperto Partnership is advising Zwift, which has significant marketing operations in London.

Zwift has made its name with cyclists and runners, having attracted more than 3.5 million user accounts, registered across 190 countries, since its launch in 2015, according to the company.

The at-home fitness market enjoyed a boom during the pandemic because, as Zwift put it, “many turned to the platform to provide not just a fitness solution but also a means to help them maintain their social connections by joining the community on Zwift who work out together online”.

Zwift uses elements of gamification and 3D virtual technology. The platform has hosted numerous high-profile esports events, including the Virtual Tour de France, the UCI Cycling Esports World Championships and, most recently, the IOC’s Olympic Virtual Series.

Zwift has also agreed a four-year sponsorship of the Tour de France for Women.

The company uses a specialist agency, Shift Active Media, for its cycling and triathlon endemic advertising.

Zwift’s in-house performance marketing team and its relationship with Shift Active Media are unaffected by the review.

Steve Beckett, chief marketing officer of Zwift, said: “We are approaching a real inflection point for the business this year and the next 12 months are arguably the most important in our life to date. 

“New product launches will open up our target addressable market enormously. As such, we are looking to partner with some of the best and brightest minds in media to help us through the next stage of our journey.”

Andrew Mortimer, managing partner of The Aperto Partnership, said: “Zwift is an incredible business, at the intersection of sport and technology, on an amazing growth journey. This is a hugely exciting brief for the agencies taking part.”

KKR, the private equity giant, led a $450m investment round in Zwift in September 2020.

At the time, Zwift said: “The investment will be used to accelerate the development of Zwift's core software platform and bring Zwift-designed hardware to market, making Zwift a more immersive and seamless experience for users.”

Brands have been investing heavily in the at-home fitness market. Peloton, which floated on the US stock market in 2019, increased advertising expense by 38% to $303m last year, according to its annual report.

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