- The Washington Times - Monday, December 25, 2006

Gold’s standard

Although its association with Hollywood dates to a starring role in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 1977 hit documentary “Pumping Iron,” Gold’s Gym is making entertainment tie-ins a major focus of its marketing strategy for the first time, starting with the football drama “We Are Marshall,” which opened Friday.

Gold’s Gym, which bills itself as the largest co-ed gym in the world with 610 facilities, has been a favorite training ground for hundreds of Hollywood celebrities, including Nicolas Cage, Keanu Reeves, Bruce Willis, Pierce Brosnan and Bruce Springsteen since “Pumping Iron” thrust it into the limelight.

But now, with a new management and marketing team in place, the Texas-based firm has decided that rather than wait for Hollywood to feature the gym in its films and TV properties, it will pursue its own entertainment promotion strategy, reports TVGuide.com, citing a story from the Hollywood Reporter.

“People have traditionally thought of us as a gymnasium for muscle-bound men, but we’re bigger and broader than that,” said Joe Flanigan, chief marketing officer at Gold’s.

He said Gold’s chose “Marshall” as its first major movie tie-in because of the film’s family appeal.

The movie, starring the decidedly muscle-bound Matthew McConaughey, is based on the true story of a young football coach determined to rebuild a West Virginia college team after 75 of its players and coaching staff were killed in a 1970 plane crash.

Gold’s is running an online sweepstakes giving consumers the chance to win free NFL tickets and other prizes. It’s also running trailers on its internal television network, placing posters in its gyms, running audio spots on its phone lines and highlighting the movie on its Web site.

Gold’s next major film tie-in will be with “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer,” due in theaters next summer.

Diddy in the doghouse

Like a scolded mongrel, new daddy Sean “Diddy” Combs (whose longtime gal pal Kim Porter gave birth last week to the couple’s twin girls) is begging the Humane Society for forgiveness after being caught using real animal hair in his supposedly fur-friendly glad rags, the Boston Herald reports.

The legendary titan of hip-hop stylin’ issued a statement Sunday after learning that the society had identified hair from a Chinese raccoon dog in Diddy’s Christmas coats, which were billed as being trimmed only with faux fur.

“I was completely unaware of the nature of this material, but as soon as we were alerted, the garments were pulled off the Macy’s floor and Web site,” he said.

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from Web and wire reports

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