Franchising: A Slim Gym's Fat Success

Overweight women are rushing to Curves, a fitness chain that's decidedly glamour free

You hear that marketers are learning to portray aging baby boomers more realistically. But how often do you see an ad that features thickening middle-age Americans? Hardly ever--and that's why you will probably notice the new $16 million TV ad campaign by Curves Intl., the franchising phenomenon that has opened more than 5,400 gyms for women in the 50 states, Canada and six other countries. Commercials for Curves show real women--think "before" not "after"--slogging through their workouts. What's also different about Curves--and why its business model is even more intriguing--is that it ignores the received wisdom about luxury-obsessed boomers. Curves' gyms...

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