Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and former Pittsburgh Steelers and Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Troy Polamalu recently filmed a new Head and Shoulders commercial at Genesis Health Clubs’ newly remodeled KC Racquet Club in the Kansas City suburb of Merriam, Kansas. The road to the finished product was filled with secrecy, closed sets, construction delays, military-grade COVID precautions, and an army of staff flown in from Los Angeles.
“We’ve certainly had fitness influencers ask to use our clubs for a video or photo shoot before, but this took the cake,” said Rodney Steven II, president and CEO of Genesis Health Clubs, which is headquartered in Wichita, Kansas. “It’s not every day you shut down an active construction site so the biggest sports star in the world can use your locker room.”
In early August, someone with a production company called the company to see if they could use a Genesis club as a set for a Patrick Mahomes commercial. Mahomes led the Chiefs to win the Super Bowl in February.
“At first, we wondered if it was a hoax, but it all checked out,” Steven said. “My brother Brandon and I are loyal Chiefs fans who even have a suite at Arrowhead Stadium. Needless to say, we were interested. The fact that they were willing to keep the shoot in Kansas City and work with a local company? Of course, we had to be a part of that.”
Because the shoot was occurring in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, special care had to be taken to not expose Mahomes, the Super Bowl MVP champion, to anyone who might have COVID-19.
“There were literally millions of dollars on the line,” Steven said. “Can you imagine if something went wrong and they had to delay the start of the NFL season? With all our COVID precautions, we were confident that the risk was low, but they needed it to be zero. And that’s when everything almost fell apart.”
The commercial set had to be closed, and it was non-negotiable. Everyone on the set had to have a COVID test the day before, and no one else could be around to prevent further or potential exposure.
“They were interested in our Overland Park (Kansas) club, which we had just remodeled into the nicest club in our portfolio,” Steven said. “They had seen pictures of the new luxury locker rooms, which had led to the whole conversation.”
But to film the commercial there, the club would have to close for two days, including the busiest day of the week, right after a grand opening.
“Worse yet, we couldn’t tell anyone why,” Steven said. “There was just no way that could happen.”
All alternatives—block off part of the club, use a secret back entrance, come up with a cover story and explain later—failed to pan out.
“The few of our staff who knew about the commercial were incredibly excited, and I was too,” Steven said. “It would have been quite the letdown to everyone if we hadn’t been able to make it work, but we just couldn’t close down Overland Park. That’s when the idea came to shut down construction on KC Racquet Club.”
The nearby KC Racquet Club location was nearing the end of a multi-million-dollar remodeling project and would feature similar locker rooms to the ones at the Overland Park club. Best of all, since it was closed, no members would have to be turned away from their workout. It was the perfect location and solution to the problem.
“That’s not to say it was without challenges,” Steven said. “We had a tight timetable to make our grand opening date, and we had to shut down construction for KC Racquet Club for a whole day, which is an eternity when you’re on a hard deadline. Plus, the locker rooms were not quite ready yet. But it was a way better option than leaving our members without a place to work out. Not to mention, we were in the middle of acquiring seven new clubs. There’s nothing like a challenge to show everyone what they’re capable of.”
The deadline was set. Priorities shifted and crews worked hard to get the locker room ready in time. The commercial was filmed, the construction crews immediately resumed work, and the club was ready for its grand opening date.
Then, the waiting game began.
“We’re used to doing a video project and seeing the finished result within a few days,” Steven said. “This one took over a month and a half. I was actually in the suite watching the Chief’s opening game when it aired for the first time. Pretty good timing.”
Steven said the commercial turned out well.
“The locker room looked great, the commercial is airing all over the place, and truth be told, it’s pretty funny,” Steven said. “We’ve already had a lot of media coverage, and the reception has been incredibly positive.”
Steven said he would do it all over again, despite the challenges to filming.
“If Mahomes needed another locker room set for a future commercial, we could probably manage,” he said. “We have enough construction projects lined up that we could be the go-to for the rest of his career.”