Sporting Life showcases sports and style

Who: Sporting Life, with Juliet for strategy and creative; Genuine Retail Media for media.

What: “Where Sports Meets Style,” a national brand campaign that aims to reassert Sporting Life’s status as the home of sports gear that’s both functional and stylish. It’s the first major work from Juliet, which won the assignment earlier this year.

When & Where: The TV-led campaign is in market now, running in both English and French through Sporting Life’s peak November to January sales period. It marks a major return to broadcast for the brand, other than a small campaign about 18 months ago.

The media buy from Genuine Retail Media includes the requisite digital/social components, while the intention is for the look, feel, and tone of the campaign to flow into all aspects of the brand’s communications, from its website, to its email blasts, and in-store.

Why: This is a large-scale campaign at a tough time for the sector, with many retailers retrenching as consumers pull back on discretionary spending. “While others are playing defence, we thought it was important to go on the offensive and scream loudly ‘This is who we are’ at our busiest time of year,” said director of marketing Denny Downie.

Sporting Life has been putting a greater emphasis on sports in recent years, but is now looking to focus more on the combination of sports and style that represents its unique sales proposition in the highly competitive retail space—where it is not only competing against pure-play sports retailers like Sport Chek, MEC, and Sail, but also against fashion retailers like Holt Renfrew.

“We’re all aligned as an organization that this is the right space to play, and it’s where we can win right now,” he said. “For us, what’s unique is the intersection of those two things… You can get the gear, but you can also look good.”

It’s also generating awareness of Sporting Life outside of its traditional GTA stronghold. The retailer now boasts 14 stores across the country, including three new stores in Laval, Edmonton, and Burlington that all opened in the past year. “We want to build awareness  across the country, and get people to know who we are beyond our core customers in the GTA,” said Downie.

How: The high-energy spot features a series of quick cuts juxtaposing people engaged in the sports that best represent Sporting Life’s expertise—skiing, snowboarding, running, tennis, and athleisure activities like yoga and in-studio exercise—along with equipment suppliers for those sports, and more general lifestyle-oriented brands like Nike and Lacoste.

“We’ve got the best and broadest assortment of top-tier sports and style brands, so that’s a piece we wanted to build into the spot,” said Downie. “It’s the brands we want to be famous for in those particular sports categories.”

And we quote: “After spending time on the ground with Canadians, it became clear that ‘style’ is as much about what they do as what they wear. Sporting Life has always been about sport and style—not one or the other—and it’s time to make them famous for it.”—Kaiti Snell, head of strategy, Juliet

Chris Powell