Decathlon goes big with simple billboards from Rethink

The retailer's first-ever national campaign may seem unassuming, but the brand's mission is not.

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French sporting goods manufacturer and retailer Decathlon Canada has launched its first national awareness campaign as part of ongoing expansion plans.

The campaign – consisting of OOH elements such as billboards and bus shelter ads, as well as a digital push – is aimed at attracting new customers primarily outside of the Quebec market, where the brand has four stores.

Jaylone Lee, CMO at Decathlon Canada, says the retailer is embarking on the second phase of its expansion as it opens new stores in Ontario, and so the creative (by Rethink Montreal) is meant to introduce consumers who are unfamiliar with the Decathlon brand and its diverse selection of sports equipment.

In Ottawa, Decathlon refers to itself as a “A New Kind of Store” in transit ads that list various sports terminology, while a billboard with copy set against the retailer’s navy blue hue reads: “We’re changing the game every time you change the aisles.”

Lee explains that Decathlon is more than just a sports retailer; it also offers digital experiences in an effort to make sports accessible to more people, which is a core part of the brand’s mission. “We want to remove friction points for people who want to remain active,” she says.

Lee says one of the ways the brand does this is by offering a variety of classes through its “Decathlon Community” platform, which helps people find and register for a variety of local activities, from bootcamps to spinning classes and Zumba workouts. The retailer also created the “Decathlon Coach” app, which tracks walking and running activities.

“We really view the [digital community and coach] ecosystem as ways to connect with customers and the community,” she says. “It’s not just customers, it’s sport users, it’s people who want to be active.”

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Decathlon currently has a location in Ottawa, while a pop-up shop recently opened at the Mapleview Shopping Centre in Burlington, Ontario around July 10 and another temporary location will debut at the Mic Mac Mall in Dartmouth, N.S. later this month.

While more permanent stores will eventually open in the Mapleview and Mic Mac malls, Lee says Decathlon didn’t want to wait to begin interacting with customers. “[The pop-ups are] a way for people to engage and learn about Decathlon, check out some of our key products and basically start engaging with us,” she adds.

Even though Decathlon doesn’t currently have a physical presence throughout Canada, Lee says the brand does have an e-commerce platform and that it recently began shipping across the country.

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