TMR Q&A: Hydrow CMO Diana Cino on capitalizing on new film from George Clooney, “The Boys In The Boat”

We all love a great sports drama, especially when it involves a real-life narrative that we may have known about, but only vaguely.

Clooney remained behind the camera as the director of the new film, “The Boys in the Boat,” from Amazon MGM Studios Amazon MGM Studios

Case in point is coming a week from today on Christmas Day, when “The Boys In The Boat,” the true story of the 1936 Olympic rowing team from the University of Washington that went on to win gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, hits the big screen, directed by George Clooney.

For those who don’t know, the film is based on the bestseller by Daniel James Brown and stars Callum Murray, Joel Edgerton and Peter Guinness as the coaches – and rowers – who literally went from nothing in Depression-era Seattle to the highest level of success in pre-World War II Germany.

So then, how can an Americana sports success story from nearly 90 years ago drive brand interest in a sport that is all about conditioning?

Enter Hydrow, the Boston-based fitness company created by rowing champion and U.S. National Team coach, Bruce Smith. Hydrow has quickly used its technology, engineering and its wide-ranging training platforms to literally transform training using “connected” rowing equipment, from the grassroots level to the most elite rowers in the world.

Through a subscription model, Hydrow offers live and on-demand classes on the water – not in a studio – shot all over the world with over 5,000 workouts in their library, all taught by actual athletes, including Olympians and Paralympians.  

Heading into an Olympic year when sports like rowing see a bump in popularity and participation, can Hydrow use a vintage and uplifting tale of sports glory to ride to more exposure and brand growth?

We asked Hydrow’s CMO Diana Cino to explain how they are making waves with the film.

Cino, recently elevated from SVP, Sales and Marketing, joined Hydrow from Bevi where, as VP, Marketing, she spearheaded a rebrand and expanded customer verticals during the height of COVID-19. Prior stops included Director, Marketing at Wayfair and Director, Strategy and Product Implementation at GoHealth. In addition, she is a longtime volunteer for The Philanthropy Connection, a women’s collective focused on addressing systemic inequities within the greater Boston area.

Below is our interview, edited for length and clarity.

Team Marketing Report: Give us a quick look at the rowing/fitness industry today from Hydrow’s perspective.

Diana Cino: The fitness industry went through transformative change over the past few years, but as we adapt to life post-pandemic, consumers are looking for something different. When we were stuck at home, connected fitness was a way to feel like we were a part of the outside world, while still engaging in healthy habits.

Now that the world is generally more open, consumers are looking for efficiency. The best workout, the least amount of time – but still want to have fun doing it. While our industry is contracting slightly after the COVID bloat – leaders in the space, like Hydrow, are effectively shifting our focus and listening to the consumer.

Brands like Hydrow with strong communities and best-in-class products are the ones that will continue to innovate and thrive.

We’re thinking big – we’re not just shaping the future of Hydrow; we’re cultivating a community where individuals can push their limits, achieve their goals, and experience the transformative effects of a positive, active lifestyle.

TMR: We have seen bumps in interest when a film does well. How can Hydrow use that bump from The Boys In The Boat?

DC: We can all use an uplifting story like this right now – a story of triumph against all odds and overcoming adversity. This is a classic story built on the power of teamwork and the beauty of rowing, which used to be the dominant American sport a century ago.

Hydrow is confident that bringing this story to life and showing the beauty of rowing will excite new generations around this sport that we love so much.

TMR: You took the step as a brand in partnering with the film, even though it takes place in the 1930’s. How and why did that make sense for an ultra-modern company?

DC: There were two core reasons why we knew we had to be a part of this movie. First off, our goal is to bring rowing to the masses and make it more accessible. For too long, rowing was a sport of Ivy League elites – rowers coming from privileged backgrounds and being able to afford to take part in a previously cost-prohibitive sport.

Hydrow was created to bring the feeling of being on the water, but also the feeling of community into your home, whether you live near the water or not.

Further, we want to build on the thrill of this story. Moviegoers will see how popular rowing was in the past, and we want to be their solution to bring rowing into the future.

TMR: Are there specific activations the company has built out tied to the film?

DC: So much! We wanted to celebrate the story and the film in a special way – in a way that only Hydrow could do. We went to Seattle to shoot content on-site at the University of Washington, with some of our athletes that are alums of their historic rowing program. With that footage, we created a really special trailer to tie the historical narrative to the future of rowing with Hydrow.

We created over 30 different workouts both on the water and off inspired by this story and the meaning it has for our team, who are world-class Olympians, Paralympians and World Champions.

Additionally, we partnered with the University of Washington and “The Boys in the Boat” for a historical exhibition at the Head of the Charles – the largest rowing regatta in the world. We’re further amplifying the partnership with press events and multi-channel advertising.

The Hydrow Rower, which retails at $2,495
TMR: Looking ahead past the film – and ideally a nice “bump” in awareness and sales – what does Hydrow brand growth look like in two years? Other partnerships we should know about, etc.?

DC: We are most excited that Hydrow is truly in a position to achieve significant growth in the next two years.

This growth will be largely driven by an emphasis on partnerships and innovations in our product lineup, specifically aimed at strengthening the connection between rowing and overall well-being. We can’t share details yet, however, our focus will go beyond the conventional fitness realm, as we actively seek collaborations that enhance our members’ lifestyles and contribute to their holistic whole-body health.

We will be expanding our product lineup to include offerings dedicated to strength training, further emphasizing our commitment to providing comprehensive fitness solutions that enrich various facets of our members’ wellness journeys.

We’re thinking big – we’re not just shaping the future of Hydrow; we’re cultivating a community where individuals can push their limits, achieve their goals, and experience the transformative effects of a positive, active lifestyle.

We want to be the brand where people feel comfortable and equipped to try their best, and we can be their partner in that exciting journey, where the pursuit of excellence and well-being takes center stage.


To view past TMR Q&As, click here.