ParticipAction links physical activity to socializing

People care more about social connections than exercise right now, so the non-profit made a team challenge to bridge the gap.
Great Big Move

Canadians are prioritizing social connection right now, but the chilling weather and limited access to gyms means physical activity has fallen by the wayside for many people. With that in mind, ParticipAction has a new effort to bridge the two together.

The “Great Big Move” challenge – launched with the help of Zulu Alpha Kilo – is available through the ParticipAction app and encourages Canadians to get active digitally across the country. To participate, teams of two to eight people will get physically active together, virtually through the app. Activities from running and cycling, to gardening or raking the leaves will accumulate “move minutes” that are represented in the app as a journey across Canada; as the team meets goals, they move to a new province. There are up to $20,000 in prizes to be won by teams that make it from Newfoundland and Labrador to British Columbia, with the grand prize of a $1,500 Visa gift card for everyone on the winning team.

“We can’t be as socially connected in person as we would like to be, so we wanted to connect people virtually while still encouraging them to get physically active,” says Rebecca Jones, director of marketing and communications at ParticipAction. The “Great Big Move” challenge offers that sense of connection, as team members can track each others’ progress and movement as they move together towards a collective goal. Team members can’t personally message one another on the app, although that’s functionality the brand is working on.

The “Great Big Move” challenge was prompted by a Maru/Matchbox market research that suggested that Canadians wanted to put more emphasis on connecting with family and friends, relaxation and destressing during the pandemic – physical activity was the sixth-most important priority.  

“We want to demonstrate to Canadians that everything gets better when you get active, not only your physical health, but also your mental health and your social connection with others,” Jones says, echoing the goals of ParticipAction’s “Everything Gets Better” brand platform, which focuses on the physical, mental and social benefits of physical activity.

ParticipAction also connected with various tourism boards for the challenge, providing articles, video and photo content from the destinations within their app. This gives the app the added benefit of helping the struggling Canadian tourism industry, in addition to keeping users engaged with the cross-country travel concept of the challenge.

The app challenge is being promoted primarily via an influencer program through Corus, along with broadcast, paid digital and paid social. Cossette Media handled the media buy.