ParticipAction shifts its approach to making life better

The nonprofit continues to take a holistic view of the benefits of physical fitness, but without the jokes.

participactionWith fitness and life changes on the mind as the new year begins, ParticipAction is taking a different approach to showing Canadians the holistic benefits of improved physical fitness.

Rebecca Jones, director of marketing and communications for the organization, says the latest campaign is continuing to highlight its brand platform (“Everything Gets Better When You Get Active”) and making sure people are aware of all the wide range of benefits of physical activity, going beyond weight loss and physical appearance to include things like improved sleep, focus, mood and recovery time.

But there’s been a strategic shift since the platform launched using the poop emoji to make it less jokey and “a bit more introspective,” Jones says. In the new creative, a diverse collection of people list the things they want to make better, but in a more serious and goal-oriented tone.

“We wanted to introduce it last year in a fun way to get people’s attention,” Jones says. “But this year we’ve shifted gears to make it a bit more personal with people.”

In the 2018 federal budget, ParticipAction was given $25 million over five years, after previously having its funding cut by the previous government in 2014 (most of the organization’s funding comes from the federal government, though it is supplemented by some provincial funding). That led the organization to develop a new five-year plan to “start out fresh to find out where our place was with Canadians,” Jones says. Since then, she says most people have been receptive to the holistic approach to physical activity, but didn’t know much about how to go about it.

Jones says ParticipAction has 89% aided brand recall but there are challenges around familiarity surrounding its programs, which is why it has decided to be more focused on public education campaigns and to engage with individuals more directly through a mobile app.

“We are finding [the phrase] ‘better’ is resonating with Canadians and we intend to weave it through everything we do in the next five years and possibly beyond,” Jones says.

As an organization, ParticipAction is mandated to reach out to all Canadians, but from a psychographic perspective, Jones says this spot is looking reach those ready to make changes in the new year. It’s a busy time of year for those kinds of messages, she concedes, but believes ParticipAction’s approach is unique enough to break through.

Zulu Alpha Kilo once again led strategy and creative for the campaign as ParticipAction’s long-time AOR, while Cossette Media handled all media for the national campaign, which includes TV, digital media and social. Jones says the size and scope of this year’s campaign is similar to the brand platform launch.