Equinox Taps Rankin for Provocative Ad Campaign

The famed fashion photog brings his portrait skills to the fitness chain.
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Dhani Mau
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The famed fashion photog brings his portrait skills to the fitness chain.
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While we're not usually in the habit of writing about gyms — unless enough models work out in it, of course — Equinox has become an exception due to its highly-produced, attention-grabbing ad campaigns, which are often shot by fashion photographers.

Gilles Bensimon, Ellen von Unwerth and Steven Klein have all shot ads for the fleet of upscale workout centers, but the biggest splash was made by Terry Richardson, who shot scantily clad models in suggestive positions for campaigns in 2011 and 2012. The latter were controversial not because they were sexual, had little to do with exercise, or even because they were shot by an alleged sex offender, but rather because the models looked too skinny — like a typical fashion model.

The fitness giant's latest campaign, set to debut on Jan. 1 (just in time for those New Year's resolutions), comes from another legendary fashion photographer: Rankin, who's done everything from help found alternative fashion magazines like Dazed & Confused and Hunger to shoot a Miley Cyrus video (not unlike Richardson). Known for shooting portraits, Rankin's ads for Equinox aren't particularly fitness-related, but they are intentionally attention-grabbing.

They're an extension of Equinox's "Equinox Made Me Do It" narrative and the shots are meant to convey how working out at Equinox can result in heightened confidence and therefore lower inhibitions. One female model is seen shaving her head; a male model is seen wearing women's clothing and heels.

"Having been familiar with the Equinox brand and some of the great advertising they’d done in the past, when I got the call I was excited about the prospect of creating their next campaign as it couldn’t have been closer to my style,” said photographer Rankin in a statement. “The campaign we’ve created is impactful and a brilliant development for the brand, I’m proud to be part of it."

The beautifully-shot ads definitely make an impact, effectively hitting you over the head with their message. But is it too much? Tell us what you think in the comments.