For the next 6 weeks, The KMAC GROUP will be tracking Olympic sponsor activations demonstrating sponsorship best practices that will help you achieve a positive return on your investment. Each week, we’ll be assessing the Olympic sponsorship practices of leading global and Canadian companies, tracking their activities at all touch points to see how they use sponsorship to drive sales and identify which practices work best.
Our third installment of this series highlights sponsorship best practices of the Official Outfitter of the Canadian Olympic Team – HBC (Hudson’s Bay Company) and adidas Canada, Official High Performance Apparel and Footwear Supplier for the Canadian Olympic Team.
Here is a recap of sponsorship best practices we’ve covered so far:
Sponsorship Practice #1: Deliver a simple, clear message.
Sponsorship Practice #2: Connect with your audience emotionally
Sponsorship Practice #3: Take an integrated, holistic approach
Sponsorship Practice #4: Market your core strategy through sport…(It’s not just an Olympic campaign)
Sponsorship Practice #5: Innovative Sponsorship – Adding value to existing ideas and platforms.
Sponsorship Practice #6: Engaging your audience
Sponsorship Practice #7: Get in the game, in real-time
This week, we’re introducing two more best practices:
Sponsorship Practice #8: Innovative strategic partnerships
Leverage each other’s strengths, experiment with different strategies to deliver an innovative brand experience for the consumer.
Sponsorship Practice #9: Bringing the Olympic Game experience to those who can’t attend the Games. (Connecting Canadians with the Canadian Olympic Team).
Hudson’s Bay (HBC)
Hudson’s Bay has been a long-term supporter of the Canadian Olympic team over the years, originally outfitting athletes in patriotic gear in1936. In 2011, HBC announced an eight-year renewal of their COC sponsorship commitment. HBC’s current deal supplies the Canadian Olympic team with opening and closing ceremony uniforms, podium outfits and casual wear for athletes, extending through 2020. Combining fashion with sport has gained significant traction over the years and began to take off when Roots debuted their Official Team Gear lineup to the Canadian public in 1998. Recently it has really taken off as HBC has provided leading edge fashion design and gear to Canadians in HBC stores across Canada.
As the official Premier National partner of the Canadian Olympic Committee, HBC has always been passionate about bringing the Olympic spirit to Canadians through their clothing line. This year HBC introduced a very distinctive look playing with colour-blocking techniques, incorporating red white and black along with bold Canadian Olympic team crests that makes a statement. The Canadian Olympic Collection (also known as the Olympic kit) will consist of T-shirts, sweaters, hoodies, sweatshirts, jackets and accessories.
In 2009 their Red Mittens Campaigns gained overwhelming success and soon became an iconic item for Canadians and the Games. Fans wore these as a symbol of their support for Canadian Olympians and continue to represent Canadian Pride. Building off of the success of the red mittens, HBC continues to show their commitment to sport in Canada by not only releasing their 2014 version of the ‘Red Mitten’, but also donating more than $35 million to support Canadian athletes through national sport organizations and initiatives.
Hudson’s Bay has been a brand that has been able to heighten their shopper experience both in stores and online by simply making it easy and consistent! When it comes to purchasing Olympic gear, most Canadians can now count on stepping into a Hudson’s Bay store, or jumping online to the HBC website to find anything they want, and its that easy! Shoppers shouldn’t have to dig and search for what they want. There is a dedicated space in HBC stores as well as online strictly for Olympic gear, and offers a variety of women’s, men’s and kids clothing and accessories at a whim. HBC achieved an Olympic inspired look within their stores using vibrant and patriotic displays while focusing on a podium appearance to help Canadians share in that prestigious experience. If you visit their website, eagerly awaiting you is a countdown clock for the opening ceremony to the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games. This not only excites Canadians, but is encouraging us to hurry and get our gear to support our athletes!
adidas, a brand known for sponsoring major international sporting platforms such as The World Cup and The Olympic Games has landed a deal with the COC to become the official high-performance apparel and footwear supplier for the Canadian Olympic Committee. In addition, adidas has signed sponsorship deals with 7 Canadian athletes who are the faces of the campaign called, ‘What It Takes’.
During the London 2012 Games, a $161.7 million investment to become the exclusive sportswear partner of the event helped adidas gain market share and open doors for new business growth opportunities. They will be building infrastructure in Canada within the next three years, including a new distribution center in Ontario and mini-shops within Sport Chek stores with the Olympic collection to be sold in a dedicated space.
This will be the first time that a full line of high performance Canadian Olympic team clothing will be available to Canadians across the country, (debuting at Sochi 2014), where Sport Chek will be the lead retail partner that will carry the entire line of the Adidas Canadian Olympic Team High Performance Collection. These items include compression and workout gear; outdoor training layers, winter jackets, vests, zip-up and pull-over fleeces, long and short-sleeved performance t-shirts, footwear and accessories. adidas has carefully designed this collection to equip athletes at all levels with Olympic-quality apparel and footwear to enhance muscle efficiency, manage moisture and insulate the body during all types of training. (Canadian Tire and Sports Experts, also Premier National Partners of Canada’s Olympic Team will carry select items from the adidas collection in stores across the country).
By ensuring that this brand collaboration is visible every day of the year in-store keeps their brand message consistent and easy for consumers when shopping. They are essentially saying, “Hey, this is what our Canadian professional athletes are training in, you could be a part of that by training in this gear too!” adidas has strategically chosen a niche (high-performance gear) market to focus their Olympic efforts on, and has done an amazing job keeping their brand messaging clear and consistent through strategic partnerships with FGL Sport Chek and the Canadian Olympic team.
Why does this matter?
Traditionally, sponsorships with athletic organizations usually consist of one single brand, but today, like the COC, we now see sponsorships being increasingly divided and sliced into niche-focused deals. This will be the first time ever the Canadian Olympic Committee will have two apparel partners, segmented by official team outfits and high-performance training gear. Some might say that this is diluting the value of the COC, but we believe these sponsorships can still be effective and profitable when each brand is clear and consistent with their marketing efforts and focusing on their specific target market.
Here we see two brands that have chosen to sponsor different aspects of the Canadian Olympic Team, and has succeeded in leveraging their sporting entity to further drive their business. The partnership between the Canadian Olympic Committee, adidas Canada, Sport Chek and Canadian tire is innovative because they are putting a unique emphasis on the athlete journey, the real training it takes to get to the podium, while HBC is drawing on the before and after experience of the Olympics, that being the opening and closing ceremonies.
Both HBC and adidas Canada have leveraged their strengths to bring the Olympic experience closer to their consumers by choosing which specific part of the Canadian Olympic Team experience they can bring to life for Canadians. Additionally, adidas has carved out an innovative partnership with Sport Chek to drive additional sales of their high performance gear. But truly, the real innovation is in the unique way each company was able to strategically partner with one sporting entity, the COC.
For over 21 years, The KMAC GROUP has worked with some of the world’s best-known companies to help them grow their sales. Using our experience in strategic sales, key account management, sales training, project management, consumer engagement and live retail event activations, we help companies like Procter & Gamble and General Mills increase sales performance.