Bike stolen? Decathlon feels your pain

Who: Decathlon, with Rethink for strategy and creative.

What: “Stolen Discount,” a campaign promoting a $50 discount on a new bike for customers in the GTA and Hamilton who can provide proof that their wheels have been stolen this year.

When & Where: The campaign is in market now, running until July 30 across the GTA. It is using a mix of out-of-home, in-store communications, and organic social on Instagram and Facebook. Decathlon also ran a full-page ad in Saturday’s Toronto Star announcing the program.

Why: The Greater Toronto Area is a hotbed for bike theft, with nearly 4,000 bikes stolen across the region in 2020 alone. According to Toronto Police Service data, there have already been more than 500 thefts in the city this year.

According to 529 Garage, a North American collective with a mission to reduce bike theft across the continent by 50% by 2025, 7% of people who have had a bicycle stolen find it upsetting or costly enough to be a deterrent against riding, and give up cycling all together.

Decathlon’s stated mission is making sports accessible, but in addition to recreation, bikes have also become an essential form of transportation. Decathlon has been growing its store network in the GTA, and currently has six location in the regions: Brampton, Burlington, Hamilton, Markham, Toronto and Vaughan.

How: The retailer is placing branded cutouts of bikes in bike racks across the GTA throughout the summer. The cutout reads “Stolen bike?” and informs people of the $50 offer with proof of theft, complete with a QR code that takes them to the Decathlon website.

Social ads are also being targeted to people who have complained about stolen bikes, along with ads on Facebook Marketplace aimed at users who might be searching for a replacement bicycle.

An accompanying video promoting the offer shows CCTV footage of people brazenly stealing bikes, often in broad daylight, before communicating the offer. “Because getting you back on the road is what matters,” says the closing super.

The full-page newspaper ad launching the program features an image of a bike post empty except for a single wheel, accompanied by images of police reports. “To you, this is a theft report. To us, it’s a discount,” reads the headline.

Christopher McGarrell, founder of Toronto’s ManDem Cycling Club, said that cyclists in Toronto, and particularly those in the downtown core, continue to be negatively affected by theft. “Decathlon understands that bikes are a huge part of city life,” he said. “We’re grateful for organizations that show support for those impacted by bicycle theft.”

And we quote: “At Decathlon, accessibility is paramount. We believe that regardless of ability, income, or gender, all Canadians should be able to participate in sports to maintain a healthy lifestyle,” says Marie-Lou Blais, director of communications at Decathlon Canada. “Across the GTHA, cycling as a mode of sustainable, healthy transportation has increased in popularity substantially, and we want to keep the region riding throughout the summer months!”



Chris Powell