Sport Chek takes more inclusive approach to sport

Ambassador-led fitness sessions are part of the retailer's repositioning to be less about sweat and performance.

On the heels of a brand repositioning undertaken late last year, Sport Chek has unveiled a new ambassador-led program as part of its efforts to take a more inclusive approach to sport.

The brand has partnered with three ambassadors (dubbed “Move Makers”) on community fitness sessions that introduce “new ways to move that create more inclusivity, access and inspiration,” according to the campaign event page.

The chosen ambassadors are individuals who have a different understanding of fitness, health and wellness and who have made a difference in their respective communities, says David Lui, VP of marketing for the brand. They include Scarborough, Ontario’s Sadaf Jamal, founder of the non-profit Move N Improve; Vancouver’s Louise Green, founder of plus-size fitness brand Big Fit Girl; and Calgary’s Tyson Bankert, founder of Recess Calgary, an organization that  encourages building relationships through sport.

The campaign kicked-off on July 3 with each ambassador leading a free fitness session in Toronto as part of a social and media blitz. During phase two, taking place on July 24 to coincide with International Self-Care Day, the “Move Makers” will return to their respective communities to lead classes on everything from flag football to yoga and meditation to boxing bootcamp.

“Move Makers” is the latest activation of a brand repositioning Sport Chek underwent last year, Lui says. It has already run two TV campaigns (one in the fall of 2018, the other this spring), presenting the new positioning and “Find What Moves You” tagline, though the brand was more “quiet” about promoting that early work, according to Lui. For that work, Anomaly led creative and Touche on media.

Whereas Sport Chek’s previous marketing centered around “sweat and high performance” – as seen in its “What it Takes” work for the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang – Lui says the new positioning is about “encouraging Canadians to live a healthier, active lifestyle.” That, by necessity, means taking a more inclusive and diverse approach to the meaning of sport, he says.

“We wanted to further define what Sport Chek means above the door,” Luis says. “When we look at consumer research, over 57% of Canadians realize that living and active and healthy lifestyle is such an important day-to-day need, and we feel that Sport Chek is in a position to play a bigger role in helping them move that intent to action.”

At times, a high-performance approach to sport can be intimidating, he says. “But now we’re saying that sports and activity is open to anyone. It’s however you define sport.”

Sport Chek has historically spoken more consistently to men, but part of the repositioning is also aimed at engaging with more women and children, according to Lui. The brand hopes that shift will help double its marketing audience, from 7 million to 14 million customers. To that goal, it has previously opened concept stores for women and children.

“Move Makers” is getting further support from paid media (including content on the millennial-focused website Narcity), paid social and through its own CRM channels.

Following the launch, Sport Chek intends to continue identifying local ambassadors and telling their stories through geo-targeted social campaigns. During the back-to-school season, it will also be running a campaign encouraging kids to get active in an inclusive way.