The Verdict: CBC hits a Sports Day home run » Media in Canada

The Verdict: CBC hits a Sports Day home run

The net, in partnership with ParticipAction, exceeds its target participation by almost 60%.

When the CBC and ParticipAction decided to partner on Sports Day, a national initiative to promote the benefits of sport, they hoped to have 1,000 ‘celebration’ events registered and 750,000 participants.

However, by the time the week-long event ended on Sept. 18, the goal had been well exceeded, with 1,071 events registered and 1.28 million participants involved – a 58% increase.

Sports Day, which took place Sept. 11 to 18, 2010, was created by ParticipAction and the CBC to be ‘a national celebration of sport, from grassroots to high-performance levels.’ The idea was to have communities across the country show their support of the event by hosting local sporting events and activities, as well as open houses and ‘try-it’ showcases by local clubs and sporting organizations.

Canadians were asked to register their event on the CBC microsite, and contribute by uploading photos and videos and tweeting their thoughts with the CBC handle and hashtag. Corporate sponsors included Telus and the National Post, and organizational partnerships included the Canadian Olympic Committee, Canadian Paralympic Committee and True Sport.

It was a resounding success that exceeded all expectations, Kelly Murumets, president and CEO of ParticipAction, and David Masse, senior director, CBC Sports, tell MiC.

‘I think that, on the heels of the successful Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games and Paralympic Games, Sports Day in Canada tapped in to something that means something to Canadians on an emotional level – it captured the magic of sport, and the power sport has to unify and inspire us,’ Murumets says.

‘This initiative was all about celebrating sport at all levels, irrespective of age or skill level. Anyone could join in and participate and that’s really what made it so special,’ adds Masse.

While the afterglow of the Games may have heightened Canadians’ awareness of sport for a period of time, neither organization left promotion of the event to its own WOM devices, setting up a comprehensive media plan to support it.

The centrepiece of Sports Day was a special two-hour CBC broadcast, hosted by CBC personality Scott Russell, profiling a selection of communities hosting Sports Day events. In the 10 weeks leading up to the broadcast, the network showed 20 themed vignettes on sport nationally, as well as locally themed segments in regional markets.

A major-market radio buy was also part of the plan, promoting Sports Day and asking Canadians to participate in ‘Jersey Day’ on Friday, Sept. 17.

All participating teams and events were able to access promotional creative (digital, OOH and event kits) on the Sports Day site so they could promote their events in their own market. Participants in major markets hosting televised Sports Day events (Richmond, BC; Calgary, AB; Ottawa, ON; Oakville, ON; Quebec City, QC; Halifax, NS; and St. John’s, NL) were provided with branded promotional materials and agency support from TrojanOne to help build buzz, and crowds, for the event.

Support from all participating organizations and sponsors was crucial, Murumets says.

‘Partnerships for Sports Day in Canada were more than just components of an inaugural funding model,’ she explains. ‘Securing strategic partnerships with national voices like CBC, True Sport, the COC and CPC were vital platforms to effectively promote community engagement at a grassroots level. Sports Day in Canada was a breakthrough buzz-worthy initiative, with 40% of awareness coming from word of mouth. Sports Day proved to be a powerful message as it took approximately three people to be aware for one person to participate.’

For the CBC, it was an opportunity to continue, and promote, its support of amateur sports in Canada, CBC’s Masse says.

‘We’re proud of our record and commitment to coverage of amateur sports. This was a terrific opportunity, along with our partners, to take that commitment even further and to reach Canadians at a truly grassroots level through a real celebration of sport, in every sense.’