Sport Chek takes its real-time messaging offline

Can the popular social strategy work on traditional media? The sports retailer tested the waters during the Raptors' playoff run.

Right time, right message.

That’s the crux of the real-time marketing movement taking hold of the industry. Social channels are both enabling and driving marketers’ ability to take on the instant “Dunk in the Dark” messaging.

But what about going real time in a linear world?

Tapping into the Raptors’ playoff run, Sport Chek, with media agency Touché!, tried its hand at real-time marketing in an offline environment.

To kick things off, following the Raptors’ first round win against the Pacers, Sport Chek took over 10 billboards directly orbiting the game, says Erika Dehaas, AVP marketing at FLG Sports. Within four minutes of the buzzer, the billboards all changed to ads featuring Sport Chek spokesperson (and Raptors player) Kyle Lowry. Messaging read: “Bring on Round 2.”  The campaign was specifically targeting the Toronto fan base, DeHaas says, which was why the media buy was so concentrated on the Rogers Centre.

For the second round, as hype over the Raptors grew across the country, the brand turned to a TV buy, this time in partnership with TSN. Following the game seven win against the Heat, TSN panned to the Air Canada Centre’s Sport Chek location, where a giant Lowry banner had just been unveiled. Messaging read “Third-round bound in the six.” A 60-second Sport Check commercial from the brand’s basketball platform (which it launched earlier this year, designed to tap into the sport’s authenticity and iconic moments), followed.

Finally, after the conference finals, which ended in the Raptors’ elimination, a TV spot aired on TSN, congratulating the team on a hard-fought battle.

For each round, multiple versions of the campaign were created in-house, says DeHaas, with the brand waiting for the inevitable win/loss moment in the last game before going on air.

On social channels, where the content also aired, more than 128,000 people watched the final congrats message on Facebook, while Twitter generated more than 140,000 impressions, all without a media spend.

Real-time marketing is becoming an even more important part of the brand’s overall strategy, DeHaas says. Social is changing the way marketing as a whole is perceived, and it’s becoming crucial that marketing – whatever form – is relevant. Going forward, she’s now turning her attention to the Olympics, where this strategy will also play out.

“Everything we do is through the lens of sports,” she says. “Sports happen so quickly – wins, losses, exciting moments within the industry itself – that it’s critical for us to be present in that space.”