Sport Chek’s community play

The retailer is building on the successful Raptors' "#WeTheNorth" campaign with a crowd-sourcing twist.

Sport Chek is expanding beyond its usual celebrity athlete endorsements and asking local basketball players in the Greater Toronto Area for their stories in its newest work.

The new campaign, “#MyNorth,” taps into Sid Lee’s “#WeTheNorth” work with the Toronto Raptors last year (Sid Lee is AOR for both the Raptors and Sport Chek). The partnership is part of a larger deal that the Canadian Tire Family of Companies and MLSE signed last September.

To discover and highlight basketball communities, the brand is working with local insiders like the coach of the basketball team from Vaughn Secondary School, Gus Gymnopoulos, who worked with last year’s number one NBA draft pick Andrew Wiggins during his time at the school, to find the nine neighbourhoods that will make up the community aspect of the campaign: Brampton, Markham, Vaughan, North York, York, Etobicoke, Mississauga, Scarborough and Toronto.

Each of the areas will be spotlighted with their own documentary, produced by TSN, which will be incorporated into in-game advertisements on the Bell Media channel as well as shown during home games for the Toronto Raptors at the Air Canada Centre. That content is part of a deal that Canadian Tire announced with TSN last spring. The campaign kicked off yesterday with a YouTube video introducing the program.

The communities will also be tapped to crowdsource future creative for the campaign, with the ask out now to provide design ideas for a future “We the North” Adidas fan collection featuring pieces unique for each neighbourhood. That collection will be sold exclusively in Sport Chek stores next March. An initial line of “We the North” clothing is available now at Sport Chek locations across the GTA.

Different OOH signage for each community has been created through the campaign by illustrator Carson Ting. Those illustrations will be posted in relevant locations to each of the communities as well as printed on T-shirts for members of the community.

The deal marks the first time the brand has partnered with the Toronto Raptors, a coalition the retailer was inspired to sign after seeing the momentum of the team’s playoff run last season and the underlying basketball culture that emerged in the GTA, says Shelley Girard, AVP of marketing at FGL Sports.

“Basketball is something exciting for us because it is so intertwined with the community,” she says. “We felt like it was a great opportunity to be able to be engaged with communities in the GTA.”

Sport Chek will also give out 85 tickets to each of the Toronto Raptors 41 home games to sit in the #MyNorth fan zone at section 307 at the Air Canada Centre.

Jeffrey Da Silva, ECD at Sid Lee says the goal of the campaign is to crowd-source stories of local players that might not be in the big leagues. To get folks engaged, the brand rolled out nine videos featuring some of these under-the-radar players, and is asking the communities to submit their own tales.

“We want to know about the cousin that should have made it to the professional level and stories that people don’t know about,” he says. “It’s different because it is a lot more grassroots – we aren’t profiling big stars. We will be talking with names that not everyone knows.”

Along with creative work from Sid Lee, media was handled by Touche! with public relations and social media from North Strategic.