Sport Chek’s claim to basketball

With "#WeGotNow," the retailer is attempting to expand its connection with Canada's basketball culture.

Sport Chek is continuing to work on growing its presence in Canada’s basketball communities with the “#WeGotNow” platform.

Building off the Toronto-centric “#MyNorth” campaign it launched in 2014, a new anthem spot features shots of players in schools, community gyms and street courts putting work and practice into basketball, while a voiceover explains why all that work is one reason why the game “belongs to” Canadians.

Media buying is being handled by Touche!, and will be national in scope, as opposed to the Toronto-centric “#MyNorth.”

TBWA\Chiat\Day New York led the creative on the campaign, having been added to Sport Chek’s agency roster in December. North Strategic is handling PR and social on the campaign, and also ran an event in Toronto on Wednesday, in which 1,891 #WeGotNow basketballs were given out to Torontonians, including youth teams, schools and the Boys and Girls Club of Toronto, to commemorate the year the game was invented (1891).

The fact that basketball was invented in Canada is one source of the pride that’s at the heart of the campaign’s message. While “#MyNorth” was more closely tied to Toronto’s communities and the excitement around the success of the Toronto Raptors, FGL Sports’ SVP of marketing Frederick Lecoq says that helped lay the foundation for the “#WeGotNow” extension, which he describes as a “celebration” of basketball across all communities in Canada.

“Canada is not the outsider in basketball many see it as, and we don’t have to wait for our moment to play,” he says, adding that the need for authenticity is the main reason it pursued a unique basketball platform, as opposed to a basketball-focused spot as part of its broader “All Sweat is Equal” platform. “The tagline reflects an insight about basketball culture and the way people talk. Basketball is a great territory for us, as a brand, to find more emotional conversations, but you can only do that if you’re authentic. The language and tagline is the kind of thing only truly genuine basketball players and enthusiasts might understand, but they’re the people we’re talking to.”

At Yonge-Dundas Square in Toronto, a digital screen takeover has been broadcasting fan content posted with the “#WeGotNow” hashtag since the beginning of February, and will continue until the end of the month. But while the initial “#MyNorth” campaign featured a slightly larger static OOH buy, Lecoq says “#WeGotNow” has been taken exclusively to digital, with a heavy emphasis on mobile, and the lone OOH execution built around social content and communities (which have become increasingly more prominent in the discussions happening around sports).

“The people we are talking to for this are always online,” he says. “We could do spots during the game, but at the end of the day, we’ll be putting dollars behind the distribution on digital because it’s the best way for our audience to interact with the creative on a deeper level. And within that, mobile is our point of entry to the audience, because mobile equals social, and every sports moment now is going social and the rally point for what fan networks talk about is on social.”

Continuing the retailer’s approach to using its locations as an advertising platform, TSN will be broadcasting from the studio inside Sport Chek’s recently-expanded MLSE location near the Air Canada Centre, with visits and autograph signings from NBA stars that are in town for All-Star weekend.

Lecoq is careful to point out, however, that “#WeGotNow” is more than an All-Star Game campaign, and is a platform it will continue to run, especially after this weekend when the Raptors begin the second half of their season that will (hopefully) lead to this year’s playoff run.

“This is not a tactical ambush or a launch-and-leave for All-Star,” he says. “This is an extension of ‘#MyNorth,’ and it’s going to last. Basketball has a growing role in our business, so we’re building a platform that keeps us part of the excitement around the game so our business can continue to grow with it.”

When he began handling marketing for Sport Chek in 2012, Lecoq says he assumed, like many in Canada might, that hockey sales would outpace those for basketball at a ratio of 1:10. But even though hockey products still sell better, in the years since “#MyNorth,” the ratio is growing closer to 1:2, and is upwards of 5% of its total sales.