The Summer Olympics motto is ‘Faster, Higher, Stronger’.
As Sport Chek didn’t have the highest budget and wasn’t the most powerful brand looking to seek an association with the event (hello McDonalds, Samsung, Visa…) it used its relative size as an advantage. With a much lower budget, Sport Chek would never be the strongest in terms of share of voice; that’s why it opted to become the fastest.
It knew the big global Olympic sponsors would, as usual, create a global creative platform that would be adapted locally in every region of the world, including Canada. With high market share, these global brands achieve high frequency campaigns that run the same creative for many weeks. For many, this leads to swift brand fatigue and the blanket of Olympic advertising becoming wallpaper.
Touché! PHD decided to go in the opposite direction: it crafted a media strategy that was nimble and reacted to the ebb and flow of events before and during the Olympic Games themselves. The agency believed relevance would win over frequency. Nothing would be “pre-recorded” in advance and the media strategy would allow for 100% of the impressions to be activated in real-time and be event-triggered.
In short – Sport Chek would create the fastest media campaign in Olympic history.
The strategy was to create Sport Chek branded ads featuring Olympic content at an unprecedented speed. This real-time media approach was a way to stand out of the crowded Olympic advertising noise despite its modest budget.
This strategy came to life, thanks to a first-of- its-kind “war room”, set up specially for Sport Chek inside the headquarters of Canada’s oldest TV network (and official Olympic broadcaster), CBC. This allowed the agency to create ads that focused on key Olympic moments from the previous hours and include breakout Olympic stars who were making themselves overnight household names (and had therefore not featured in any of the pre-recorded commercials of our rivals). Partnering with the official Canadian Olympic Broadcast, did not only provided access to production facilities: it granted Sport Chek access to exclusive footage, even footage of athletes it did not sponsored.
The strategy was to build reach at Olympic speed and allow the next message to air as quickly as possible. To succeed at it, it needed the content to be pushed through all media channels, and not be limited to CBC’s media properties (despite the fact that the ads were produced using their production facilities and their content!).
Following extensive media negotiation with the network, it was agreed that the Sport Chek real-time ads could be pushed simultaneously on all media channels including Facebook, Google, Twitter and Snapchat.
Every element of the campaign had speed at its heart. All ad content included footage of key moments within hours of those moments happening. A great example of this agile approach to content:
- By day 8 of the Games, women had generated all of Canada’s first dozen medals. The team in the war room thus created a spot celebrating female athletes. Thanks to this nimble content play, powered by the media partnership with CBC, Sport Chek was the only advertiser fast enough to celebrate women athletes.
The media execution was designed to build reach at Olympic speed:
- Sent congratulatory messages live on television and online within 30 seconds of a Canadian medal wins. This initiative required the media team to be “on” 24/7.
- All ads ran in-programme, outside of standard commercial TV breaks, to be as close as possible to the Olympic footage.
- To celebrate the launch of each new TV spot, Sport Chek owned 100% share of voice on YouTube for an hour. The domination was scheduled to run at the same time as the TV spot.
- Mobile mastheads, Facebook, Twitter and CBC digital assets were also swiftly activated to react to real-time sport events.
- Created a new Twitter format that allowed users to send a cheer to an Olympian 24 hours before they competed. The athlete would then automatically respond with a thank-you video sent directly to the user.
- The agency was even able to LITERALLY bring the speed of the campaign to life in a Facebook Live event in which consumers could come to Toronto's High Park in person to chase former Olympians down to win a selection of Sport Chek’s exclusive Olympic gear.
This campaign truly was the fastest Olympic campaign ever with over 22 new pieces of creative produced and 55 millions of sport event-triggered impressions put to market in a mere 17 days.
By being 100% activated in real-time, the campaign was able to constantly renew its advertising, celebrate Canadian success and provide a fresh experience for viewers who were getting tired of seeing the same ads during the Olympic Games worked.
Post-campaign tracking showed significant brand lifts, despite a budget lower than most advertisers during the Games. 18 million people were exposed to the campaign (that’s 50% of the Canadian population), with more than 1.3 millions hours of content being watched (the equivalent of 148 years).
All of this combined, resulted in Sport Chek stores experiencing a 10% increase in sales during the Olympics. It was a dream campaign for a retailer - creating both a significant long-term lift for a brand, while create short-term boost on sales!