Sports Experts’ new direction

The retailer has launched a new platform to build more of an emotional connection with Quebec consumers.

This story appears in the December/January 2016 issue of strategy.

FGL Sports-owned retailer Sports Experts is attempting to build on its brand affinity in Quebec with its new “It Starts Here” platform.

Led by a new spot in English and French created by Rethink, the campaign shows everyone from Olympians and spokesperson P.K. Subban to local joggers, youth teams and an aerobics group for moms, demonstrating how they live active lifestyles.

The campaign also features OOH, in-store and social elements, with social handled by North Strategic and media by Touché!

Frederick Lecoq, SVP of marketing and e-commerce at FGL Sports, had Sports Experts added to a purview that also includes Sport Chek earlier this year. Much like Sport Chek’s “Your Better Starts Here” platform, the goal is to move from transactional ads to more of an emotional connection. But for Lecoq, that’s where the similarities end.

“[Sports Experts] stores are strong based on their longevity in their communities, but we never did much work around the brand identity,” he says. “We need to say who we are and what we stand for, but in a very Quebec way. We can’t copy and paste Sport Chek’s ‘Your Better Starts Here’ because it’s different customers with different expectations.”

Sports Experts runs on a franchise model, which Lecoq says gives the stores more of a connection to the communities they operate in.

“Sports Experts has a 47-year legacy of being the destination for every kind of athlete in Quebec,” Lecoq says. “So the banner has equity, but so do the names of individual franchisees.”

This is why much of the screen-time in the spot is dedicated to the non-pros, and Subban doesn’t make his first appearance until after the halfway point of the 60-second spot. Going forward, Lecoq says much of the OOH and social creative will spotlight “local heroes,” from athletes to customers to store owners, with a connection to the communities the ads appear in.

Lecoq adds that, within Quebec, sports retailers are seen as part of the lifestyle category, which is also why the campaign is focused more on day-to-day healthy living, as opposed to training to become the absolute best, as Sport Chek’s has been.

“Quebec’s not as performance-driven as the rest of Canada,” Lecoq says. “We’re over-indexing in lifestyle, and see great room for growth in sports. Under Armour, for example, is one brand that’s having a massive run in Quebec. But the important distinction we’re making is that it’s [about] being active for your well-being.”