Category Archives: Olympics

Sport Chek Shows #WhatItTakes to Win Olympics Mindshare

Our athletes may not be the only Canadians striking gold at the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics.

Sport Chek’s path to these Games began in 2013 when parent company Canadian Tire signed a huge eight-year partnership with the COC. The strategy for Canada’s iconic sporting goods retailer was further revealed during the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi as Sport Chek launched its #WhatItTakes campaign in partnership with creative agency Sid Lee.

Let’s take a look at how Sport Chek has evolved this concept as it takes centre stage at the Rio Games.

Real-Time Relevance

From the onset, a sponsorship with the Canadian Olympic Committee is obvious as a strong brand fit for Sport Chek. But it’s par for the course for sports manufacturers & retailers to employ athletes and teams in promoting their brands.

Sport Chek took things to the next level, taking notes from the real-time marketing playbook popularized by Oreo. Drawing the attention of Adweek, Sport Chek has set up a ‘war room’ with its content team, agency partners from TBWA\Chiat\Day and an editor from CBC.

This real-time approach allows Sport Chek to incorporate recent footage of Canada’s athletes from Rio competition, serving viewers with the utility of actual highlights and news instead of generic B-roll footage.

Inspiring Message

While Canada is known as a legitimate force in the Winter Games, our country’s relationship with the Summer Olympics has been more about ups and downs. Sport Chek & TBWA embraced this insight to craft a refreshing spot that celebrates Canada’s role as an underdog nation whose setbacks only make us better.

The drama that unfolds in this manifesto undoubtedly feels inspiring for its viewers, a quality that has been shown to be especially effective for millennial males by Unruly, a digital marketing firm specializing in emotional intelligence. As explained in another Olympics article from Adweek, “inspiration is one of the top emotions. If that is present at all in an ad, they tend to experience it”.

Right Platforms

#WhatItTakes shows up in the right places to get noticed by modern viewers. As the Olympics viewing experience gets more mobile (with free streaming available on all devices), Sport Chek focused nearly 80 percent of its Rio 2016 spend on digital media, over 60 percent of which is dedicated to mobile.

Furthermore, the campaign has fully embraced social media, weaving the #WhatItTakes hashtag into its content across all Sport Chek’s social channels and posting frequent updates from the Games as it happens. Canadian Olympic athlete profiles, similar in style to Sport Chek’s previous #MyNorth campaign, incorporated the campaign’s integrated message and showed how personal challenges have made them better.

As the Rio Olympics continue, look for Sport Chek to capture Canada’s biggest moments and emerge as one of the brands that best associates itself with these 2016 Summer Games. And when it comes time for the annual marketing awards season, don’t be surprised if you see Sport Chek on the podium.

What’s the most memorable ad campaign you’ve seen in the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics? How about your all-time best Olympics spot? Share your thoughts in the comments below.


Marketing Players of the Week – February 22

It’s almost over!

With the 2014 Sochi Olympics nearing a dramatic conclusion, those of us following the Games on TV or via streaming video have been assaulted by a litany of ambitious, patriotism-inducing ads. As Marketing alludes, some auto brands have taken a “different road”, thankfully.


I was impressed by the approach taken by BMW, using a voiceover speech of legendary futurist Arthur C. Clarke in conjunction with glossy, futuristic images. This spot re-introduces a powerful idea about how we imagine the future while effectively positioning their brand as forward-thinking and awe-inspiring.


The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon

Not only is Jimmy Fallon already making waves with videos from his new position of Tonight Show anchor going viral, but the transition was marked by a major rebranding for the longstanding late night show.

John Brownlee of Fast Company Co.Design published a great article with his take on the rebranding effort, but I would recommend reading the full article by Pentagram, the agency that honed the new branding. Not only does the show title change from “with Jay Leno” to “Starring Jimmy Fallon”, but the creative prominently features a full moon rising over New York (at 30 Rock, naturally).

Just for fun, you can check out “Hashtag #2” with starring Fallon and Jonah Hill here:


Molson Canadian

While I’ve already made it clear of my love for Budweiser Canada’s Olympic activation, Molson Coors is also making some major noise during the Sochi Olympics. Firstly, they recycled last year’s Canada Day stunt promotion where friends & family of athletes can unlock a red beer fridge – but only by using their Canadian passports.

More recently, the brand is aggressively touting their official sponsorship of the Canadian Olympic team; dropping the gloves against Budweiser in advance of the Canada vs. USA men’s hockey semi-finals. Reminding Canadian fans of Budweiser’s loyalty to the American team is a savvy move, although borders on being petty.


Does Molson deserve some time in the penalty box? Leave a comment with your opinion.